Mondelez India is playing the “health card” to build on its lead in the chocolate segment.
In doing so, the company, known for products like Cadbury chocolate, and Oreo biscuits, is taking a cue from beverage giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola, which now offer nutritional products, and soft drinks with reduced sugar content.
The company, which has a 65% share of the country’s Rs12,090 crore ($1.73 billion) chocolate confectionery market, yesterday (June 10) launched a variant of its popular Dairy Milk chocolate—but with less sugar.
“We want to offer consumers wider and healthier snacking choices and create new ‘eating experiences’,” said Anil Viswanathan, director of marketing (chocolates) for Mondelez India.
In an interview with Quartz, he talked about the company’s product and innovation strategy, focus on rural expansion, and challenges.
Tell us about the less sugary Cadbury Dairy Milk.
In launching Cadbury Dairy Milk with 30% less sugar, we have ensured that the taste of the chocolate stays the same. We have reduced the sugar content without adding artificial sweeteners, colours, or preservatives. Our research and development team in the United Kingdom and India worked on the product for almost two years.
We have picked our biggest brand for the innovation. Cadbury Dairy Milk accounts for 42% of the chocolate market in India. The new variant with less sugar will be priced at Rs50 for 43 gms compared with Rs40 for 52 gms for the normal Cadbury Dairy Milk..
How have you managed to hold on to your leadership in the Indian chocolate market?
We look at the market, pick up white spaces (gaps), and cover them; otherwise the competition will step in. We do not believe in carrying out minor (cosmetic) tweaks in our products. We offer multiple products at various price points. For example, Cadbury shots cover the mid-segment of the chocolate market. Again, at the top end, we have Dairy Milk Silk priced at Rs140 per 150 gm. Only a few brands are able to straddle such a wide price spectrum. We have managed to do this and maintain our leadership in the market.
FMCG is facing headwinds, particularly in rural areas. Has there been a rub off effect on chocolate sales?
There are macro factors at play, but overall things appear to be on track.
In fact, the rural market for us is growing faster than urban. We have a presence in over 50,000 villages and are expanding. So, our long-term strategy has not changed.
What’s the one thing that Mondelez India as a leader needs to guard against?
We are chasing multiple priorities at the same time. We are busy covering the market from the bottom to the top end. So, even as the company expands, we need to stay agile. We have to keep the ecosystem going and continue to discover new consumer preferences as well as tap into digital media for marketing.