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BY Archana Khatri Das

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Sriram Padmanabhan, Director Marketing, Danone India, elaborates on the company’s communication strategy, the focus of which is to create awareness among Type 2 diabetics about the role of protein and fiber in managing blood sugar levels. Danone India always evaluates opportunities across consumer segments to bring the right product solutions backed by scientific research, adds Padmanabhan.

Q] What is the idea behind the launch of the new variant, Protinex Diabetes Care?
A recent survey done by the company jointly with leading market research firm Ipsos has revealed that 92% of diabetics believe protein and fiber are important in managing blood sugar levels while only 14% and 28% include enough protein and fiber, respectively, in their daily diets. The survey was aimed at assessing the awareness about nutritional needs among people with Type 2 diabetes, and identifying the relationship between nutritional knowledge and dietary self-care behavior in India. Diabetes has become the scourge of India with about 74 million diabetics and the number is increasing fast. While exercise and medication have remained the key to control the medical condition, diet and nutrition play a vital role in its management — a fact well accepted by experts.
Lack of proper nutrition among diabetics is an area of concern. Indian diets are primarily high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fiber, which are essential in managing blood sugar levels. The survey has also found that nearly 60% of respondents did not know the food sources that have high or low Glycemic Index. Protinex Diabetes Care contains highest quantity of the protein found in health food supplement products and is also rich in fiber. It demonstrates Danone’s commitment to inspire healthier eating and drinking habits among adults.

Q] Please share your communication strategy and the media mix you adopted to promote the product?
Over the years, consumers have been inundated with varied information — be it about products or solutions to manage diabetes. A lot of advice exchanged is unsubstantiated and unscientific. Hence, our communication strategy for Protinex Diabetes Care is hinged on key pain points like providing consumers with scientific information and communicating to them the key role of protein and fiber in managing blood sugar levels.
Our target consumers are Indian adults suffering from Type 2 diabetes for at least more than a year, residing in metros and mini-metros. We leverage the general queries they have or the questions they frequently ask to custom-fit our content and target them accordingly. We also evaluate the kind of products they are currently buying or are considering to buy to reach them through right platforms. Our media mix includes digital mediums such as video, social media. We also look for fitting experts and influencers with whom we can partner. We have been increasing the spends on digital over the last two years and, currently, the split is 70 % traditional and 30 % digital. Digital media is growing rapidly, and we are leveraging this to reach our consumers.

Q] Would you like to highlight any learning during the pandemic?
During the pandemic, we observed higher health consciousness among people, which led to healthy behaviors. This phenomenon has cut across regions and socio-economic classes. Consumers became more aware about making healthy choices and spent more time searching for those through their friends or family and digital mediums.

Q] Did you feel the need to rejig your communication strategies during the pandemic?
We designed our communication to make it relevant for our target consumer segments. A lot of people didn’t know that protein is important for immunity. Our message was focused on highlighting the same. We ramped up our digital communication on platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Google display advertising while leveraging influencers extensively. This has contributed to a 2x increase in reach and SOV, which increased by 50% during the pandemic (2019 vs 2021).
Besides, Danone has launched a nutrient calculator that enables consumers to see the nutrition quotient of their diets. Our annual initiative ‘The Protein Week’ is a strong, engaging platform to spread awareness around protein and the role it plays in improving one’s quality of life during the pandemic.

Q] What are the kinds of products we can expect from Danone India to strengthen its presence in categories like healthy aging, adult, child and infant nutrition?
At Danone, we believe in improving health through food of as many people as possible. We are committed to introducing products that cater to local needs and requirements, and continuously evaluate opportunities across consumer segments to bring the right product solutions to our consumers. Plant-based products are trending in India, and we are weighing opportunities in the space as consumer demand for sustainable lifestyle and diet choices grows in India.

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