How have you seen Brand Parle evolve in your nearly 20 years with the company? What are the instances that have gone on to become key marketing lessons for you?
Parle was seen as an old and traditional brand and it had a skew towards certain geographical areas. But in the last two decades, Parle Products has grown and evolved as a dynamic and modern brand, recognized in every part of the country. We have adapted and evolved with the changing times, which reflects in our brand philosophy and communication. One learning is that consumers are extremely sensitive to the product. They notice the slightest change in the product they consume and that impacts sales immediately. Once, we had changed the product composition to ensure that the price remains almost intact. By doing this, there was a change in the overall product characteristics which led to decline in sales for around three months and we had to take corrective action. The other learning is the need to be the first product or brand in a category. If you're not the first one in a category, it gets extremely challenging and tough to make space for the brand in the consumer’s mind.
What next from Brand Parle? What will be your priorities over the next one year to chart the brand’s growth?
We are looking at consolidating different categories like Bakery, Confectionery and Snacks, where we have a very strong position. Cakes and rusks are showing incredible results. Especially post lockdown, we have seen a very encouraging trend for snacks. Our key task is to consolidate the entire portfolio and keep propelling growth. We have quite a few launches lined up. Recently, with Chatkeens, we launched two South special variants - South Mixture and Butter Murukku. Shortly, we are going to launch Farali Chiwda, which is a big hit in Western and Northern India, where people eat it while fasting. In Western snacks, we have revamped the entire portfolio of FullToss and launched new flavours right in the middle of the lockdown - Thai Sriracha and Noodle Masala. For Mexitos nacho chips, we have a revamped version along with new flavours like mustard and herbs, which are getting fantastic traction. In rusk, we have launched a 1 kg pack, which is the first in the category.
Be it the Ramzan digital film or #HarKismiMeinHaiKiss on V-Day or reinventing the Kismi logo to signify social distancing sometime back, you have made the toffee brand ‘Kismi’ stand out. What is the outlook on Kismi, and also Rola Cola that you relaunched?
Kismi is an iconic brand and its growth has been incredible. The brand Kismi had fizzled out and we wanted to bring back to life this legendary toffee, which even I enjoyed during my childhood. We undertook a lot of initiatives, be it the recent #HarKismiMeinHaiKiss TVC and social media activities or the social distancing post with Kismi logo that we came up with last year. All these gained a lot of momentum for the brand. We have made Kismi available across the country. We want Kismi to be on top of mind of the new generation. Rola Cola was re-launched due to a consumer demand through a tweet. It took social media by storm! Our communication strategy was to create the same feeling about Rola Cola with the new generation like the millennials have. With schools reopening in most places, we are hoping that brands like Kismi and Rola Cola will gain good traction.
What would you call the brand’s biggest challenge in recent times and how did you overcome it?
The brand’s biggest challenge is when a brand is not the first brand in the category. For every category, we have tried to find uniqueness and tried to bring in a unique offering for consumers, which has helped us gain inroads in vacant spaces.
How did the lockdown treat you personally?
During the lockdown, apart from ‘Work from Home’, I also involved myself in a lot of ‘Work at Home’ and learnt immensely from it. I focused on being fit because due to work from home, physical activities had come to a standstill.
What is one rule that you always follow?
Whenever I get an opportunity to learn, I just grab it with both my hands and enhance my knowledge. The world is limitless and has so much to offer, learning is an everlasting thing.