Food Forum India (FFI), organised by IMAGES Group, has always been a conglomeration of top industry professionals. A session entitled ‘Insights from food brand creators’ held at FFI ’10 had some of the stalwarts from the food segment sharing their experience about surviving and growing in the food and beverage segment.
Sudeep Goenka, director, Shubham Goldiee Masale elucidated, “Creating a food brand is like the birth of the first child. Also food in itself is an emotional thing. With the reach of modern retail now every brand has the opportunity to be everywhere. We are trying to do so with our good old Indian spice brand.”
Like spice is an important aspect of Indian food, similarly there are interesting ways in which some of the food industry players are trying to spicy up the experience for the consumers. Venkatesh, MD, Goli Vada Pav emphasised on how a ‘desi name’ helps the consumers to connect better with home grown brands. He said, “We are an ethnic fast food chain brand since 2004. From my experience, I would say that the basic foundation for food product is the food itself. So the key factors to keep in mind are product standardisation, safety of food, a three-month shelf life at least in order to become national and the use of technology.”
From the perspective of an importer of international food brands, catering to the Indian consumer is equally appetising. Sanjey Bajoria, MD, Bajoria Foods noted, “A strong brand needs consumer loyalty. Thus, a brand owner needs to have good knowledge of the consumer as well as the market. Ten years ago our country was a closed economy but now things have changed. The imported brands need to Indianise the product.” In order to illustrate his point with examples he pointed out how McDonald’s has been doing well with their aloo tiki burger and Pizza Hut doing good business with paneer tandoori pizzas. He also stressed on the fact that imported category is precisely an ‘impulse buy’ category. Bajoria added, “Once the consumer likes the taste, they will be become loyal.”
Anjana Ghosh, director, Bisleri stated, “The brand Bisleri has existed for the past 40 years now. In fact, we have become a generic name for packaged mineral water. What has worked for us I feel is the connect we have been able to create with the consumers. When we changed the packaging from blue to green, our sales grew by 56 per cent. We have been able to communicate our brand essence to the consumer in a way in which he or she understands best. I personally feel that the product may come and go but it is the brand that plays in the mind and heart of the consumer.”
As a final word, K Radha Krishnan, chief mentor, Aligned Business Partners (ABP) observed, “I feel that if a brand name becomes generic, it is a huge compliment in itself. I would like to say that there will be conflicts between the need to customise and the need to standardise and how much of the volume will be dedicated to what. But the key take-aways such as product safety, topicality, availability and of course good quality still remain.”
— Sayanti Banerjee