Vincent Noronha, VP, Marketing at Havmor Ice Cream, speaks about how the brand has been constantly focusing on product innovation not only to offer ‘something new’, but also to create a fulfilling experience for consumers.
Q] Please tell us about the idea behind the ‘coolest summer job’ and ‘coolest work-from-home job’ campaigns?
When a product is developed, the R&D and marketing teams ideate (come up with flavours), which are tested by consumers for qualitative and quantitative research and then launched. We wanted to reverse the process. Instead of going to consumers at the last stage, we wanted to start with them. So, the entire process started with getting consumers to ideate, think of flavours, discuss and co-make with our teams and lastly, serve the end product to them for tasting. This was the idea behind ‘The Coolest Summer Job’. Ice creams are mostly consumed in the summer months of March, April, May and June. We thought it to be the best time to engage with consumers. Youngsters have their summer holidays and it is the right time to engage with them to get them on board for marketing activities. Hence, it all started five years ago with ‘The Coolest Summer Job’. This year, we couldn’t do it the way we did in the past because of COVID-19.
But we did not want to give up the exercise altogether. So, we came up with ‘coolest work-from-home job’ campaign because it is new and an acceptable norm now. The mode of execution was changed. We weren’t hoping for great results, but were surprised to have crossed all benchmarks in terms of last year’s numbers. Even this year, we got close to around 43,000 participants.
We invited entries from those who have a flair for ice cream and want to be a part of the team. They were required to send in their entries stating why do they love ice cream?
People have sent videos of music, dance and workout, and have even shared recipes through videos. They came up with all sorts of innovative ideas. We shortlisted the most creative people of them all and selected our finalists from among them.
Q] Do these flavours co-created with consumers exist and how are they being received?
Yes. We offered flavours like ras malai and shahi kheer. These were available in the market for around four to five years and they did pretty well before we replaced them with something new.
Q] Do you see it as a necessity to bring in new flavours every year?
When it comes to consumers’ fascination for ice creams, they always want to know “What’s new?” The seller of a parlour puts a stick into a new flavour and hands it over to the buyer to taste. This is what buyers want to experience, which prompts ice cream brands to hunt for something new. We keep on adding flavours because consumers even expect essence of seasonal fruits in their ice creams even though they may end up taking the trusted varieties like butterscotch or chocolate.
Q] How else do you bring in new flavours and products?
Co-ideating with consumers is one of the ways. Lotte is our parent company. It is the largest ice cream brand in Korea and Japan. These two countries consume more ice creams than we do. We drive our inspiration and borrow our ideas from them. The latest one we introduced was World Cone, which has been one of the largest selling products in Korea for around 15 to 20 years. As the name suggests, it is a big cone, and the packaging is very attractive. That’s what we have launched here. We borrowed the idea from Lotte and brought it to India. Our parlours are stationed in prominent locations. We take our customers’ feedback very seriously as these give us insights and help us generate ideas.
Q] Which categories are preferred by consumers and which are the ones doing well currently?
Cones are trending now. One can relish bakery and ice cream in one product, the combo enhances the taste. Ice cream cakes are second-best performers as a category. Around eight to 10 years ago, Havmor launched cakes with ice cream. It gives you the best of both — cake and ice cream — in one product. That’s the reason behind its growing demand. The pandemic has increased the popularity of the take-home tubs. More people are ordering it online and storing it in their freezers lest they are unable to get it the next time.
ABOUT THE BRAND
Havmor Ice Cream, a part of Lotte Confectionery Ltd, is one of India’s largest ice cream brands. The brand has grown immensely since its inception in 1944 by reinventing the ice cream experience time and again. It is known for its innovative flavours like the homegrown ‘paan ice cream’ and ‘ladoo ice cream’ to the premium ones like Nutty Belgian Dark Chocolate, Mocha, and popular Ice Cream Cakes. Havmor has achieved tenfold growth in the last decade. It has a strong brand presence and has emerged as one of the fastest-growing ice cream brands in the country. With a wide and varied range of flavours, a network of 60,000 retail outlets across 18 states, and more than 200 flagship parlors, Havmor is truly a national brand that caters to a wide spectrum of audiences across the country.
Digital Media Agency: Interactive Avenues
PR Agency: Perfect Relations
Q] What are the learnings from the pandemic? Are you going to make any changes to the product or packaging keeping in mind consumer need today?
We are working on getting some new formats, which will be very new in India. These will be inspired by ideas that have worked well in Southeast Asian countries. From consumer insights gained during the pandemic, I have realized that they do not want their ice creams to be exposed to external germs. With increased awareness about hygiene, buyers are now demanding a well-packed product. Secondly, people want to have an ice cream on the go without being messy. These are a couple of ideas we are working on.
Q] The ice cream market was one of the worst-hit segments during the pandemic. So how is the recovery now?
The recovery has been good. Most of the brands, even Havmor, have gained in terms of what was lost. I can’t share the exact numbers.
Q] Does it also mean that your media mix would change drastically post the ongoing recovery from the pandemic?
Yes, the media mix has changed. We are spending more on digital, social media. We have increased our digital spending by around 60 to 65% compared to 2019. The ad spends on traditional media would be around 60%, which include TV, print, and outdoor. Around 40% of media spends go to digital.