Knorr packs a hot punch

Written by Malabika Sarkar | Malabika Sarkar | Updated: Sep 1 2009, 07:51am hrs
This is perhaps the most under-penetrated compared to other FMCG categories. The incidence of purchase is less because consumers still prefer to cook it at home and consume fresh (and therefore healthy) rather than have the canned or preserved (and therefore not-so-healthy) variety.

In short, the biggest issue before packaged soup marketers is this: How does one increase the incidence of consumption and therefore purchase. One way to do that is to dislodge products like cakes and biscuits that are a popular tea-time snack for more than 90% of the Indian population.

And thats exactly what Hindustan Unilevers (HULs) Knorr brand of soups, said to be the leader with a 70% share of the Rs 120-crore packaged soup market (source: IMRB household panel), is trying to do.

With Bollywood actor Kajol, as the brand ambassador, the new campaign of Knorr focuses on redefining soup as the ideal snack to satiate the 7.00 pm pre-dinner hunger pang.

The TVC starts with a little boy presumably speaking to his stomach, which has been begging for some snacks since the clock struck that tricksy hour. On realising that her son was talking to himself, mummy (Kajol) asks what he is up to. Our boy explains that it was not him but his stomach that is craving for something to nibble on before dinner. Mummy is adamant: If he has something then, he would probably skip dinner. Our boy wonders if he should be listening to his tummy or his mummy!

In the next shot mummy moves into the kitchen and reaches for a pack of yummy Knorr soup. She says, Knorr soups with 100% real vegetables is so healthy that mummy is happy. She prepares a bowl of soup in a jiffy and her son gulps it down in no time.

The ad ends with a voice over stating: At 7.00 pm, Knorr soups:

Now Tummy is happy and Mummy is happy." The tag line aptly sumsup the campaign proposition: Itna healthy ki mummy bhi khush, itna tasty ki tummy bhi khush.

The objective of the campaign is to position soups as part of the consumers daily food routine in an interesting and relevant way, by owning the pre-dinner slot. The companys brief to its creative agency, Lowe Lintas, Mumbai, was to focus on category building.

Soup is not part of the Indian home consumption menu and the main task for us was to find a space for it in the Indian diet and make it part of everyday menu. If the child is hungry at 7.00 pm and ends up eating just about anything that comes his way, the idea of family dinner goes for a toss. If mummy refuses him his snacks the child is unhappy, if he eats junk and refuses dinner mummy is unhappy. We decided to build on this idea, says Iyer of Lowe.

Sidharth Singh, category head, foods, HUL, explains the whole idea was thrashed out. The strategic thrust for Knorr in this relaunch is to find a role for soups in the daily Indian menu. The aim is to usurp the vacant spot between 5.00 pm and 8.00 pm as the perfect pre-dinner snack. In fact, soup is an ideal snack, a perfect appetiser that momentarily satiates ones hunger without ruining ones appetite for dinner. Knorr soups promise to be just that.

The television ad campaign took off from August 10, 2009, and will run till the end of February 2010. The campaign has been conceptualised by Arun Iyer of Lowe Lintas and directed by Gauri Shinde of Red Ice Production. The communication programme also includes language ads, innovative out-of-home displays, print, sampling sessions, among others. The campaign rolls out across six citiesMumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune.

The core business for Knorr in the country is soups, says HULs Singh. Keeping in line with the global brand positioningthat is, every meal is an opportunitywe are positioning our soups here as a healthy snack. We have always targeted mothers who face a big problem feeding vegetables to their kids. Keeping this in mind we have positioned Knorr as a solution that makes meal time more fun as it is not only nutritious but tasty as well.

The other market players in the packaged soup category are Nestles Maggi, which pioneered the organised packaged soup market in India and Capital Foods Chings brand. Nestles Maggi has been the most aggressive and has taken the lead in launching innovations like the Maggi Hot Cup in single-serve sachets, priced at an aggressive Rs 3 per sachet in a couple of variants.

Interestingly, soup brands get the most aggressive with the onset of winter. From the looks of it, the battlelines are being drawn this year well ahead of schedule.