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A new course for consumer product marketing.

Healthy competition breeds qualitative excellence and the market expands in the process, consumers become more conscious and consumption patterns emerge. In this quagmire, survival is of the fittest. Biscuit eating tradition in Pakistan has existed since its inception as a legacy of the British Raj. During the first few decades the unorganised sector including bakeries catered to the consumer demand and the market witnessed growth.

During the process of consumerism in the Pakistani Society, we sat the evaluation of the organised actor which catered to the consumer demand for quality biscuits by introducing packaged branded biscuits. These pioneers of the organized sector operated in a sellers market and even though their contribution to the growth of the packaged goods market cannot be negated no concrete effort was made to exploit the potential of the growing demand for branded biscuit consumption. The unorganised sector still had a major contribution in the Total Biscuit Market.

The first serious attempt to comemecialise the concept of institutionalizing the mega brand was made by EBM through it mega brand Peek Freans and the Pied Piper was born. This attempt served as a major impetus to the growth of the overall packaged goods industry and the organised sector started to gain foothold as a serious competitor to the unorganised sector. Thereafter, the distinction in the total biscuit market comprising the organised and unorganised sector became more prominent and the market potential was estimated in terms of branded marketing.

To further felicitate the growth of the Total Market in terms of Branded Products EBM commercialised its second brand English Biscuits. Thus offering 2 major brands to cater to the needs of the top end of the market through Peek Freans and the rest of the market through English Biscuits. Now that the consumers were exposed to qualitative excellence of the packaged biscuits there was a shift from the unorganised sector to the organised sector and a natural growth was witnessed in terms of the GNP and the acceptance of the Hygiene factor as an important element in food products. Biscuits were accepted as Food Between Meals a concept floated by EBM and the market showed tremendous potential for growth.

During the last 5-6 years the opportunity that the market offered in terms of growth led a heavy influx of capital into the industry and a number of new brands, some internationals were launched in quick succession. A show of strength was witnessed and in an attempt to capture market share heavy advertising and promotional activities were undertaken which ultimately helped in increasing the overall size of the market and in the process established consumer loyalty and preferences.

With the plethora of competition bearing down upon the market in the packet segment the contestants had no option but to look for new avenues for expansion and survival. This lead to the concept of market segmentation and Niche marketing. The consumer profile became more tangible into consumers with High Disposable Income (HDI), Low Disposable Income (LDI), HDI families with school going children, LDI families with school going children and children.

Product segmentation became more prominent into Plain (Sweet Biscuit), Salted Biscuits and wafers. Variations appeared in the above categories on the basis of texture, taste and flavours. Branding become an order of the day and the hitherto virgin market became an arena for shelf presence, domination and survival. A number of pioneers and new entrants have taken a back seat and the market mechanism and the King, |Consumer' has shown its preference and acceptance of a few selected brands.

EBM was the first to apply the Niche Marketing Concept and established a strong consumer franchise. Continental Biscuits followed the same strategy and has also developed a consumer franchise. Others following Me Too strategies have failed to established any stronghold and have had to resort to various marketing tactics like discounting to ensure survival. The Biscuit market is not as volatile as it was. It has settled down and in the process become very fragmented. Consumer loyalties have been established and brand shifting is an expensive proposition.

In order to continue to take a lead, identification and exploitation of an opportunity is a musts in this highly competitive environment. New avenues other than the traditional ones used to market Niche Products have to be experimented with. EBM in this respect has taken the lead in the Health Platform with the launch of a Health Based Biscuit, Whole Wheat Slices made from pure bran for the health conscious consumer in a non traditional manner.

Whole Wheat (Bran)

Whole Wheat (Bran) a dietary fiber helps in the movement of the bowels and is one of the recommended Natural Food. It is ideal for consumers who are constipated and constipation is a general problem in Pakistan. The literacy level in the urbanized towns ensures that the concept of bran fiber and of Natural Food will be understood And education is not a monopoly of the affluent in the country. A major contributory factor in the intake of bran is the health aspect, with its property, of decreasing nutrient availability reducing level of plasma cholesterol and reducing glycemic responses to a meal, would influence the health conscious segment.

The product was to be marketed in the UU and UM segment in selected towns and due to its health platform the medical stores will be given distribution importance. It was felt by the Marketing Team that the brand would initially have a select group of consumers and as the product offers a specific health related benefit it was necessary to educate the consumer. It then transpired that a consumer would follow his doctors advice (Peer Group) on health related matters.

The strategy which then evolved was to promote Whole Wheat Slices on a health platform through the doctors who are aware of the importance of Bran and are themselves prospect consumers as well. If they are convinced then our chances of success would be very good. Consequently letters were written to all the doctors in the three major cities informing them of the availability of a Bran Based Biscuit. The company then hired SPO's who went around to the doctors with their detailing cards and elaborated upon the importance of bran usage and as a conjecture its natural association with biscuits as Food Between Meals. The cycle was very natural. The more you eat whole Wheat Slices, the more you take care of your nourishment, and regularise your bowel movement.

Press advertising again highlighting this aspect was conducted only in Medical Journals, the samples were distributed to doctors at Medical Seminars. Today the Marketing Team at EBM takes satisfaction on the success of this new marketing strategy for biscuits and have clearly established a lead in the promotion of a Health giving Bran Based Biscuit in the traditional Biscuit Market.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Economic and Industrial Publications
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Nanji, Mahmood
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:1135
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