Snickers, Double Mint in more desi flavours soon, as Mars Wrigley bets big on local taste | INTERVIEW

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Published: June 12, 2019 6:07:44 PM

Mars Wrigley may also be looking to bring its other popular product M&M in smaller packages in order to capture the wider market

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Mars Wrigley is planning to launch their “power products” Snickers chocolate and Double Mint gum in more Indian-flavoured variants in order to deliver differentiated products that adhere to the Indian palate, Ritesh Gauba, Sales Director, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, told Financial Express Online. Also, the company may be looking to bring its other popular product M&M in smaller packages in order to capture the wider market. Ritesh Gauba tells Prachi Gupta about why Mars Wrigley is still smaller than Mondelez and Nestle; company’s plans for penetrating semi-urban markets; and why Mars products are not in the premium category in terms of costs. Here are edited excerpts from the interview.

What is your India strategy for expansion?

Our biggest growth lever has been distribution. Our strategy is clear, we want to expand. Not left, right and centre but our focus is to target top 100-125 cities; that is where the category lies. Chocolate is the urban centric product. We want to expand from the metro to state capitals to smaller cities. That’s where we are investing. A, we are investing in chillers for our chocolates, B, for our gums portfolio, we are also looking at semi-urban towns.

We are also looking at price points. There is a myth around Mars that it is a premium offering. But we are available for Re 1 as well. We will keep playing the modern trade which is more premium and at the same time, the focus will be to keep giving price points which are very accessible.

What is the market size that you plan to capture?

It will be wrong for someone like us to talk about capturing the market size. We want to grow 2x into the category. When you are small, talking about market share is not correct.

What is the reason that Mars Wrigley has not become a dominant player?

We started very late. We are fairly new compared to Mondelez who has been here for 50 years and Nestle who has been here for multiple decades. It takes a lot of time to capture the market when you start small. Probably in three years, we will be a big player. However, in modern retail, we have 50% of the market share in the bar category i.e Snickers, as we pushed it first. I am quoting Nielsen data here.

As you said, there is a misconception about Mars that it is a premium product. Do you plan to break it? Does it help the brand if consumers consider it premium?

I don’t want our customers to just think of us as premium, they should look at our great value for money brand. We brought our global brands into India, customised to Indian taste. That breaks the shackles of it being the premium offering. We want to break the myth that it is an expensive product.

Is Mars focussing more on Skittles and Snickers?

Skittles because it is recently launched. But our focus is on Snickers and the Double Mint. These are our two power brands. Our major investments go in Snickers and Double Mint.

Why these two products only?

Snickers because we feel it is a differentiated product. We will have some news on Dove and Galaxy in the late year or another year. Regarding Double Mint, we believe that the category will grow large. We are also looking at a lot on Indianization there. We are playing a lot in these two products as in terms of price points and bringing Indian palate. You will have variants in Snickers in the future which are fit for India just like we had Almond variant recently.

How is your recently launched product Skittles faring in the market?

Good. But it is very early days. We have expanded the product with the launch of Rs 10 packaging. When you launch something at Rs 10, it obviously captures the audience. Rs 10 is the magic price and it works in India all the times.

What will be the next product launch at Mars Wrigley?

I don’t think it will be a product. It will be a portfolio that we will launch on digital. When you go to a digital platform, you don’t look to buy lesser price products, you look for something more expensive for gifting. Hence the price point changes. We will surely be thinking of introducing gift package during Diwali. In three-four months, you can expect a lot of action on the digital side like exclusive launches on digital platforms. We are working on that. Come Diwali, we will be launching many gifting options.

Consumer slowdown has been making noise for quite some time now. How has been the impact on Mars Wrigley? I do understand that the rural segment is not something that the company targets in particular.

We haven’t seen a direct impact of it, to be honest. If you ask me the reason for it, we are very small in the category. It is mainly for the market leader if the category slows down, to see and the biggest competitor really feels the impact. We are pretty small right now, we haven’t really seen a slowdown. Our growth is coming from the market expansion which means we are reaching to new customers. Our business growth has been fairly strong in the first half of the year.

Are you targeting the rural segment as well or your market is just the premium?

Mars Wrigley deals in two categories — chocolates and gums. In chocolates, we have Snickers which sells for as low as Rs 10. That is not premium. Snickers is our biggest chocolate brand in India. We may not be available in small villages, but if I am looking at small cities, we are present there. It is just a perception that Mars Wrigley is a premium offering. Clearly, the ambition is to reach rural also, but for now, we are playing in the towns with 1 lakh above populations. That’s what we are attacking. In gums, we have Boomer at Rs 1, Orbit at Rs 5, Double Mint at Rs 10. If we look at the portfolio, this is across rural, urban and semi-urban. We are not investing heavily in rural right now. We see it wherever we go, we can take our entire portfolio. So, our focus is not rural. We are attacking semi-urban and urban.

What about the Dove and Galaxy chocolates and M&Ms?

M&Ms are not in rural because of the price point. They are for modern trade stores or top 50 cities. If in future we get the price point for M&Ms which is lower, let’s say Rs 10 or Rs 20, then we will look at getting in the cities also.

Are you proactively looking at it?

We will be looking at it though not proactively. I am not giving an affirmative but the plan is in the future to look at price points and democratize the product just like we did with Skittles which is now available for Rs 10 packet as well.

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