INDIA IS AMONG FOUR FOCUS MARKETS FOR HERSHEY OUTSIDE NORTH AMERICA
Having introduced three new categories in the last 24 months, Herjit Bhalla, Managing Director, Hershey India tells us how the brand plans to expand its presence in the Indian market with differentiated products
Q] It’s been about a month since you launched your web series ‘Hershey’s Presents Meethe Bahane’. Why did you think of going the web series way? The broader brand objective is to drive brand penetration by showcasing the various ways in which Hershey’s products can be consumed. Our TV campaign focuses on driving consumption with ‘milk’. The Digital campaign aims at driving consumption across mealtimes such as breakfast, school tiffin, desserts, beverages and evening snacks. We live in an increasingly digital world where mothers and food enthusiasts actively scout the internet for recipes and newer, more interesting ways of preparing and presenting food to their family. Uploading videos and recipes online will play a key role in reaching out to millions of our consumers. We believe that this web series is a unique brand idea, which showcases many unique and interesting ways of making everyday dishes tastier and more appealing for your loved ones. The response to the campaign has been encouraging. In a month, it has garnered over five million views on Facebook and a similar number of views on other social platforms. The view through rates are higher compared to benchmarks, which clearly indicates that the content has high traction.
Q] Was the primary TG for this series mothers? The web series is mainly targeted towards homemakers and working adults who are parents to school-going kids. Having said that, the content is also relevant for anyone who is looking to add a twist to their everyday food.
Q] Following your split from the Godrej JV, you inherited brands like Jumpin, Smart Cook and Nutrine. However, we haven’t seen much action from these brands. How are you marketing them? We have specific Sales and Marketing plans for each of our brands in the portfolio including the brands we inherited from the Godrej JV like Sofit, Nutrine, Jumpin and Smart Cook. These are great products with loyal consumers. We continue to sell these quality products in relevant channels and markets so that we meet our consumer’s needs.
Q] This is probably the first time that you have come up with a campaign for your syrup portfolio. However, the product has already captured a huge market share in India. Did it have a lot to do with the popularity that the brand enjoys across the globe, which made it easy to enter Indian households? Hershey’s Syrups have been in India for more than a decade and are extremely popular with consumers. The Hershey brand is seen as an international, premium and indulgent chocolate brand. A certain segment of our consumers are aware of the international, iconic Hershey brand and its product range that is loved by consumers all over the world. Having said that, we had to consistently work on building the Hershey’s proposition and making it relevant to the Indian consumer.
Q] The indulgence category in India is doing well. So what has stopped you from launching Kisses and Reese’s in India? Are there plans of them being launched here anytime soon? In the last three years, we have extended the brand to relevant categories such as milk shakes and spreads. We also entered the chocolate category with the launch of Brookside Chocolates in November 2016. Similarly, we have plans to build our chocolate category in India and we will introduce the right brands, with differentiated propositions, at the appropriate time.
Q] What kind of growth has the brand been witnessing in the Indian market? What do you think are the reasons that have helped achieve this growth here? Hershey is one of the leading brands in every category that we are present in. We are a clear market leader in topping syrups and a leading player in the cocoa powder category. In 2018, we are the second largest chocolate spreads brand and the third largest flavoured milk brand in the country, within only two years of launch. Hershey is seen as an international, premium and indulgent chocolate brand and we have extended this proposition across relevant categories. We have generated excitement with the introduction of new flavours and smaller packs at accessible price points. Also, our products are now being used across food occasions, be it with milk, breakfast, school tiffin, snacking occasion and desserts.
Q] With people getting increasingly health conscious across the globe and in India, what are you doing to make your products like milkshake and spreads healthier? We believe people know the best when it comes to consuming a balanced diet. Hershey’s Milk Shakes offers 30% more calcium and five essential vitamins in comparison to a glass of milk. The almond variant of our cocoa spreads contains real almonds. We believe that our range of products make life more enjoyable and can bring happiness, but they should be part of an overall balanced diet.
Q] How important is India for the brand in the global scheme of things? Are we one of your fastest growing markets? India is one of the only four focus markets for Hershey outside of North America. We have successfully expanded into new high growth categories and consistently expanded our margins. We have a high performing team in place in India. Having expanded into three new categories in the last 24 months, our focus now is to build on the strong results delivered so far. We plan to expand distribution and further build consumer awareness of our high quality superior products.
Q] What are some of the biggest challenges that you have been facing in the Indian market? The world around us is constantly changing at a rapid pace and we need to be able to anticipate changes in our environment and be open to change ourselves as we adapt and respond to these external shifts. For instance, there are constant shifts happening in consumer trends and consumption patterns, the way consumers view media and the retail environment in which they shop is ever evolving. There are changes in the economic, political and regulatory environment, our competitive framework will keep changing too as local and global companies constantly innovate on products, packs and business models to cater to distinct consumer needs.
Q] What will be your broad marketing strategy for the next few years? We will continue to appropriately invest and grow our brands. We strive to ensure that each of our brands has a distinct proposition, that is relevant to a sharply defined consumer segment. We will offer differentiated products at a great value to consumers and will consistently invest behind making consumers aware of our differentiated proposition. We will invest in the relevant media to win in key markets and channels.