To mark 10 years of its existence, Kurkure, FritoLay's Indian innovation in the salted snack market, is changing tracks, says Sayantani Kar.
It came out in December with a print campaign which told readers how Kurkure is made from what can be found in any Indian kitchen, underlining that the ingredients are as wholesome as what goes into home-made food.
Kurkure now on will be less about flavours and more about ingredients. It will launch the first of its products towing this line, called Punjabi Kadai Masala, soon. The product contains rajma and ragi, staple Punjabi food, apart from the usual rice, corn, spices and lentil.
What started off as an attempt to understand the infrequent Kurkure consumer, or those who are not aficionados, has become a tool that the company intends to use over the long term.
FritoLay Marketing Director Deepika Warrier says: "We wanted to demystify Kurkure for the consumers. That meant building trust and connection by informing them of the authentic ingredients that go into the product. We will have more surprising and untried ingredients in our product this year." She says the print ad has already generated a positive response, and expects sales to go up 20 per cent.
What it means in terms of branding is that Kurkure will have another differentiation from FritoLay's other brands (Lays, Aliva et al), apart from its Indian flavours. "In our portfolio, we already have Lays which is a flavour-based product. So, Kurkure would stand apart with its ingredients rather than just flavours," adds Warrier.
Marketing on the basis of ingredients will also help Kurkure stave off competition from a growing tribe of roasted snacks, including FritoLay's own Aliva, Parle Product's Monaco Smart Chips and Parle Agro's Hippo.
Experimentation with ingredients has also been done by other branded ready-to-eat products such as Nestle's Maggi which came up with a wheat-based variant, healthier than the regular maida Maggi. In snacking, roasted snacks appeal to the consumer worrying about the health fallout of finger-food, mostly in the urban markets.
"In India, the biggest driver for snack purchases is the need for a change of taste. We anyway have healthy food habits, so a break from the usual fare is what people look for when snacking," says Warrier on why Kurkure would hold its own against health snacks. Stressing on ingredients that echo wholesomeness would consolidate its stand.
FritoLay, the snack food division of PepsiCo, has been active in addressing the need for healthier snacking habits not just through its roasted snack brand. Its Snack Smart initiative has cut out trans-fat from its products and changed the oil used for Kurkure to rice bran which cuts saturated fat by 40 per cent. An attempt to control portions consumed by users has seen it launch Rs-3 packs of brands such as Kurkure.
The smaller packs have also pushed sales in the lower-tier towns. Kurkure can lay claim to being the largest packaged salted snack brand in the country, having completed a billion sales (to distributors and retailers) in 2009.
It created the category between western snacks such as wafers and cheese balls, and traditional Indian snacks, both hot and cold.
However, ITC, the Kolkata-based FMCG major, threw down the gauntlet in 2007 when it used its extensive distribution network and attractive display shelves to launch and popularise its snack brand called Bingo at places where packaged snacks had not gone before and in flavours that took Kurkure's strategy a notch higher.
Kurkure reacted by launching new flavours and a variant that looked similar to Bingo called Desi Beats. It also upped its distribution by going to cyber cafes and telephone booths.
Kurkure's move to highlight its ingredients could be a departure from what other brands are doing and would refresh its brand recall in a category driven by impulse purchases.