With the festive season upon us, various brands are busy planning attractive offers/packages for their customers. And the biscuits and confectionery category is no exception. The biscuits category as reported by Nielsen is valued at Rs 29,700 crore in value terms for the MAT (moving annual total) period ending July 31, 2017. Over the years, the premium biscuit category has seen a growth of 12-15% CAGR. Says Dilip Radhakrishna, research analyst at Euromonitor International, “A healthy snacking culture among consumers has driven the growth in sales of premium cookies, cereal bars and fruit snacks.” From chocolate biscuits to more innovative biscuits with fillings, players aren’t shying away from experimenting to please the consumer. In the past decade or so, the category has evolved with more varieties being offered. For instance, Parle Products which launched its first premium range with Hide & Seek in 1996, more recently in May launched Parle Platina which consolidates the company’s premium brand portfolio.
Says Mayank Shah, the company’s category head for biscuits and chocolates, that like most categories, biscuits too have evolved with time in India as people want variety and quality products. “Since Hide & Seek, we have added new varieties every now and then to increase our portfolio. Today, we have a premium biscuit for the health conscious consumer too,” Shah adds. Parle’s premium offerings include Milano, Simply Good, Mexitos and Hide & Seek.
Similarly, Mondelez India which enjoys a lion’s share in the chocolate market in the country, entered the category with the famous ‘twist, lick, dunk’ Oreo cookies. Over time, from the classic vanilla flavour, it has introduced more exciting variants — Choco Crème in 2012, Strawberry in 2013 and Orange Crème in 2014.
“The key to success was to deliver on both the legs of the glocal (global and local) model as focussing on just one of the two, in the Indian market and consumer landscape, would have not worked as well,” says Sudhanshu Nagpal, head — biscuits category, Mondelez India.
Continuing with the brand’s success story in India, it launched Golden Oreo — a light coloured cream biscuit in 2016 which according to the company provides an ‘Oreo eat-experience’ to non-chocolate lovers and further increases the brand’s appeal to a wider audience set.
As per Euromonitor, sweet biscuits (aggregation of chocolate-coated biscuits, cookies, filled biscuits, plain biscuits and wafers) saw an 8% increase in retail current value sales in 2017, although this was slower than the 11% review period CAGR. In 2017, cookies saw the fastest retail current value sales growth of 15% in sweet biscuits. A stronger investment in promotional activities, rising consumer income levels, healthier snack options and the widening variety of flavours increased awareness and pushed sales of cookies in India.
Britannia too has revamped its product range with crunchier, chocolatier shells, and super soft cream in between as it wants to shift its TG for its premium biscuit, Treat. The brand no longer wants to cater to children and is broadening its TG to include teens as well. The change is also visible in its packaging; now, it is more vibrant and has a young-at-heart feel to it.
“With this re-stage, we will deliver an appreciable spike in the taste and flavour experience and are sure to appeal to tweens and teens, more than before,” says Ali Harris Shere, VP — marketing, Britannia Industries. The two variants which lead this re-stage are Cool Vanilla and Funky Choco. Fruit Creams, that is, orange, strawberry and pineapple have also undergone a redesign. With an investment of over Rs 100 crore in the category, the company has also launched Good Day Wonderfulls, to strengthen its presence in the premium cookies category.
Parle too to woo the ‘evolved consumer’ — someone who is well-travelled and has an exotic choice — underwent a redesign wherein the packaging for the Platina range was given an international look with minimalistic design.
However, like the ache for the sweet tooth sufferer, there are many pain points which the category faces. “One needs to note that rising commodity prices, the effects of GST and higher transportation and logistics costs are expected to contribute to price hikes in coming years,” adds Radhakrishna. Nonetheless, in the last three to four years, the category has seen an increase in sales during the festive season. As people shift their gifting preferences, the category has benefitted as it is considered ‘healthier’ than traditional sweets and chocolates. Companies have seen a double digit growth in the last couple of years for festive packs.
A sweet tooth
Company market shares in 2017 of top companies in the sweet biscuits market
Source: Euromonitor International