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Cadbury’s India Tryst

I can’t help but notice that the chocolates I love in India are from the same company – Cadbury and that the company holds about 72% market share in the organized chocolate market (source: here ). Just in case you were wondering, Cadbury is a British company and has a bouquet of products ranging from Diary Milk, Perk, Five Star, Eclairs and Halls to the higher end Temptations.

They have a history of running ads that associate well with the Indian mentality, what with India being their top 12 strategic global focus geographies, it ought to be so…ok, lets start in the reverse order (these are mostly just Dairy Milk ads – one of their top brands):

1. Pehli Tarikh Hai – Their latest ad of “Kuch Meetha Hai Khana Aaj Pehli Tareekh Hai…” appeals to the Indian lower and middle-class mindset well of celebrating by splurging on the pay day, 1st of every month! Now, isn’t this the best form of localization ever! I think the ad is a roaring success and a tribute to the spirit of Cadbury India. Well done, Ogilvy and Mather and of course, not to mention the retro style of the ad, which is a thoughtful touch, it not only makes the ad stand out, it brings back memory of childhood in most Indians.

2. Rakhi Celebrations – this set of ads associates the Rakhi gift, which is tradionally given by the brother to the sister, as being the celebrations package – which has an assortment of cadbury chocolates – again no celebrity in most of the ads and simple, “think festivals, think celebrations”  and subtle message being conveyed

3. Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye – is a common refrain you will hear in India, especially post lunch or dinner and was captured well in the series of ads that mostly featured Amitabh Bachchan

4. Kuch Baat Hai  – This was a set of ads which urged people to enjoy “the real taste of life” and one of the ads featured a g’pa giving his wife a huge bar of dairy milk chocolate and the another featured a girl dancing in the middle of a cricket field, again cricket being India’s religion (oops! did I just say that!), well said and well captured

5. Khane Walo Ko Khane Ka Bahana Chahiye – Well, this was a classic, where the mere suggestion was that people love dairy milk and will eat it anywhere, anyway. One of the ads that I vividly recall was the one where someone had bought a bunch of dairy milk to a crowd that was watching cricket match and hoping to distribute them if India won. However, India loses. Silence, and then the crowd eats the chocolates anyway, someone won – right!

They have also had their share of faux paus – like they say to succeed one must fail all the more…so here goes the list that I can remember of the top of my head:

1. Diary Milk Dessert Range- an attempt to combine chocolate and an traditional Indian sweet (Shirkhand, I believe) – completely failed and the products were not heard of beyond a year or so, agian the ads were tempting and extremely well done, the product didn’t do the trick, though!

2. Too good to share? Cadbury or Kashmir? – this ad, aired back in 2002, raised a hue and cry and Cadbury had to retract it but not before they tendered an apology

And so on…what are your favorite cadbury ads? 

Trivia: My top three chocolates from Cadbury are Diary Milk (Roasted Almond), Perk and Temptations, what are yours? 🙂

Note: What’s more, when pushed to the hilt with rich creamy chocolate and aggressive advertisement, Indians just adopt it as another sweet in their melee of traditional celebrations!

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The Sweet Deal in India

I read an interview by Perfetti’s MD in Business Line recently where he was talking about how difficult it was for them to convert the 50p price point and raise it to Re 1 and another article here on how the main issue with Indian market is price points (MRP), that the costlier, “stylized” chocolates are better sold in “malls” and that the Indian chocolate market is largely limited to children and has not been able to convert the adults.

I beg to differ with the concept that “price” is  an issue with sweets. The people (both adults and children) who crave for sweets don’t care about price, it falls under “crave” items. The problem with Indian scenario is that overall there is a dearth of options, lack of quality and absence of richness in the confectionery and chocolates category. In fact, there are no lollipops worth its salt (sweet) that an adult would buy (even if they craved for it), chewing gums are ok but now there are too many clones in the market (especially with the sugar-free version) and can I please get an eclair that does not get stuck in my teeth (I mean, I used to like eclairs before these cheap versions started flooding the market)?

Chocolates is another disaster story, for the price I pay mostly there isn’t even a bite-full to eat (things have changed slightly with Cadbury Silk in the mix and some imported German chocolates). I can do far better with most of the traditional Indian sweets in all their variety and richness right around the corner. Of course, not to mention that dark chocolates are more chocolate than dark (cocoa) and the difference in taste between the “Indian” and “Foreign” versions of “Kit-Kat”, “Ferrero Rocher” doesn’t make them taste any better (in fact, they are worse).

All of these “sweet” guys (Perfetti, Nestle, Nutrine, Parle) who are talking about price, placement and segment issues in India, my question to you is, what have you done to understand India and put together an honest, good quality product mix for us? We might be a disparate market, we might stand divided by caste, creed and religion but we stand united by our sweet tooth and reject products that lack in quality or range thrown at us and oh, yeah! no amount of advertising is going to make up for the fact that the products don’t stand up for themselves.

PS: I should give a special mention to Cadbury as they have always attempted to work towards this goal. They are having to run three separate ad campaigns – one each for dairy milk silk, temptations and the regular dairy milk. I can see what an uphill task it is for them in Indian market to stand up for quality when everyone else is gunning for costs!

What do you think? Any special chocolate stories to share?


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