[Part-1] FMCG Brands of Tomorrow: Instant Mashed Potatoes Category

Before we start, we would like to give you a head’s up. The “FMCG Brands of Tomorrow” is a 4-Part series for which Casereads has collaborated with P. Rajan Mathews. Mr Mathews is a Chief Brand Mentor at Next Food & Beverages. He is a graduate of IIM Ahmedabad, Batch of 1988, and since then, he has held various leadership positions across top organizations. Via this series, he tries to understand how the FCMG Brands of tomorrow will look like.

For our first piece, we take a look at Food FMCG Brands that are today entering into categories that are still to make their name in India. The brand that we’ll talk about today is Vegit.

Let’s jump right in the piece.

Instant Potato Flakes, a rising category

Mr Natwarlal owns a Namkeen manufacturing unit at Nagpur and a Catering Services at Pune. He used to buy raw potatoes from the local mandis and then boil, peel and convert the same into the mash before using it in namkeens. But of late, he has had very little to worry about the increasing prices and less availability of Potatoes after switching to Vegit Potato Flakes for the manufacture of Bhujias and namkeens.

For his catering business as well, he has started using Vegit Instant Snack Mixes for serving Snacks at all his catering functions. At home, after he introduced the product to his wife, she instantly loved it and started using it in many of her snack recipes. So much so that, she recommended her neighbours praising the less effort required to prepare any snack.

And that is how Vegit built its identity in the Indian Market.

Within a period of 3 years, Vegit has established its applications across various Food manufacturing segments – HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants, and Catering ) / Bakery / Food Service outlets at both national and regional levels. When Merino setup an upscale manufacturing unit for Vegit potato flakes in the Indian market, the Indian market was very new to the concept of Instant Potato Flakes.

Internationally Instant Potato Flakes is a well-accepted product category by both the Food Service and household consumers. In the Western countries, Mashed Potato is a common staple diet among the households with famous Instant Mashed Potato Brands such as Smash and Idaho Instant Mashed Potato.

Smash is a brand under the instant mashed potatoes category in the United Kingdom. The preparation of Smash is extremely simple – the potato flakes are placed in a bowl and water is added and stirred producing mashed potato. Launched in the UK by Cadbury in the 1960s, Smash was reasonably successful. However, after Cadbury launched an advertising campaign in 1974 featuring the now-famous Smash Martians, who would watch humans preparing mashed potatoes the traditional way from potatoes instead of using potato flakes, it became a popular brand in the convenience food market. The catchphrase ‘For Mash Get Smash’ is still a memorable advertising image among western consumers.

Related: Take a look at the story of Mondelez India
The Real challenge that is India for the FMCG Brands of tomorrow

But unlike in the western countries – in India consumers do not have mashed potato as a staple diet. Potatoes are boiled and mashed for making certain dishes such as Aloo Parathas, Cutlets, Tikkis, Kebabs, samosas, etc. mostly in the northern region. But in other regions, the use of mashed potato has been limited to certain snacks such as Vada Pav & Aloo Bonda in the west and Masala Dosa in the south. Research indicated that the Domestic consumers will purchase on understanding the concept along with the comparative equivalent usage of potatoes.

The route of Television / Mass Media for creating the consumer awareness for the instant potato flakes was very costly and time-consuming as the Indian consumer would easily buy a pack for trial but the time to make it a regular home consumption or become a loyal user would be a longer and lengthier haul.

Related: Take a look at how the Weather Channel became the Weather Company.

Hence to build the usage of Instant Potato Flakes at Homes the route taken for Vegit Potato Flakes was “To build the Vegit Brand and the usage of Instant Potato Flakes at Homes through Brand Experience in Modern Trade and Food Service”. This strategy of building the Vegit Potato Flakes brands through the Food Service involved the following steps:

The Experiential and Sampling strategy of Vegit
  1. Vegit established the product usage and the Brand in the Food Service Channels. Vegit Instant Potato Flakes used the platform of Economy and Convenience in establishing itself in the Food Service outlets. The Vegit Food Service Chefs trained the Food Service Outlets in usage and showed the advantages of using Vegit Potato Flakes in comparison to cooking Raw Potatoes which were Economic, Versatile & Convenient, Hygienic, had higher Shelf Life, Uniform Taste all the year-round, and were also easy to handle and store. In all, communications and demonstrations at the Food Service outlets the brand – Vegit was prominent to establish the product superiority.
  2. All possible promotional avenues at the Food Service Outlets that used Vegit Potato Flakes were explored and utilized in creating awareness of Vegit Instant Potato Flakes being used in the product offering. For example – at all McDonald’s outlets Vegit Potato Flakes was shown on the paid advertising walls as the ingredient used in the Burgers that the consumers were eating. This created curiosity in the minds of the consumers having the Burgers at Mcdonalds’ outlets resulting in getting more details from the stores and during product demos at the Retail stores. Apart from this, there was participation in the Food festivals/theme festivals of the outlets featuring the Vegit potato flakes product offering.
  3. For the Indian housewives, VEGIT proved to be the best option for preparing mouth-watering traditional Indian Snacks. The brand mixes enabled them to prepare all the tasty restaurant-like snacks in a jiffy. It also incorporated the trick of adding the local flavor to its mixes per its origin. This range of Instant Snack Mixes was the first of its kind in the traditional Indian Snack category and competed with frozen snacks and those brought from the nearby restaurants. The entire range of Instant Snack Mixes of Vegit contained wholesome natural vegetables and required lesser oil than the traditional snack foods.
  4. The range of Vegit Instant Snack Mixes then extended into the Food Service segment by introducing 1 Kg Food Service packs of all these Instant Snack Mixes. The most popular of the Vegit Instant Snack Mixes were Veg Cutlets, Aloo Cheese Balls, Harabhara Kebab, Burger Pattie, Veg Shammi Kebab and Pav Bhaji.
  5. At all the Modern Retail outlets such as Hypermarkets, Cash & Carry stores, Gourmet stores regular product demonstrations were carried out to show the convenient usage of the Vegit Potato Flakes and the Vegit Instant Snack Mixes. These in-store demonstrations were then followed up with engaging the consumers at various possible touchpoints such as demonstrations at Ladies kitty parties, Consumer Exhibitions and trade fairs.
  6. With the Vegit brand experienced by the Domestic consumers, the use of the costly mass media such as print and Television became very effective at low media investment and low-frequency levels.
The Author

The author of this piece is P. Rajan Mathews, if the piece adds value, head on to LinkedIn, and drop a thank you. You can also share the piece with your best friend on WhatsApp.

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