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Bhujia, extrudes and the festive season: Bikano's go-to-market strategy for H2

Bikano’s marketing head Dawinder Pal discusses the brand's priorities for the next two quarters

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Mumbai: The second half of 2021 began on a bustling note for packaged snacks brand Bikano. The Company has launched two new snack ranges - a tea-time maida-based snack range and an extrude range under sub-brand Fatax, a new campaign for its star product – Bhujia, and the festive blitz focusing on sweets. The launches are part of Bikano’s well-thought-out strategy for the rest of the year even as the Delhi-based FMCG firm sets out to achieve its larger goals of establishing itself as the Bhujia specialist and market leader, developing the extrudes category and driving volumes for sweets with festive offerings.  

Bikanervala Foods, head of marketing, Dawinder Pal takes us through these developments and their strategic importance for the Company in the light of trends, that emerged out of the pandemic year. When Pal joined Bikano from Bonn Group of Industries in October 2019, little did he know that in addition to transitioning from leading a premium western snacks category to heading marketing function for a traditional snacks brand, he will also have to deal with another unexpected industry-wide transformation, just six months down the line. Fortunately, the change was largely positive for him as well as Bikano.

Taste and flavours reign supreme

There’s no denying the emergence of health and hygiene consciousness as the most important trends out of 2020. From sanitisers to 'virus-resistant' clothing lines, brands across categories grabbed the opportunity to come up with new offerings. Bikano also introduced a range of diet namkeen mixtures and multigrain chips. However, with the setting in of post-covid rationalisation, it became clear that while snacking had definitely embraced hygiene, thus providing an advantage to packaged foods brands, the wave of health-consciousness was short-lived.

“Even though there’s more awareness and talk of healthy-snacking, the quantum of it is quite low. When it comes to snacks, people are more glued to the taste; there’s still an unwillingness to compromise on it,” says Pal.   

With renewed confidence, Bikano decided to go full throttle on traditional tastes and flavours, delivered with the hygiene advantage of packaged foods. Bhujia emerged as the obvious choice to lead the Indian snacks category. The humble snack contributes a whopping 35 per cent to Bikano’s namkeen category sales. “We are targeting Rs 200 cr in revenues from Bhujia (Aloo and Bikaneri) in the next two quarters,” says Pal.

The namkeen and snacks market in India is valued at about Rs 35,000 crore, with Bhujia and Sev enjoying a 25 per cent share. Currently, the second-biggest player, Bikano wants to become the market leader in Bhujias. To this effect, the brand recently launched a campaign – ‘Hum Se Behtar Bhujia Ko Jaane Kaun’ - positioning itself as the “Bhujia specialist”.

Bikano’s new tea-time range of refined wheat flour (maida)-based snacks, launched in July is further expected to provide it an edge over the competition. Consisting of seven products - Bhakar Badi, Tikoni Mathi, Gol Mathi, Matar Para, Methi Mathi, Mini Samosa and Chai Puri – the range is primarily targeted at the northern markets.

Unlike traditional Indian snacks where it is the second biggest player, Bikano’s foothold in the western category which includes extrudes, wafers and bridges are not as strong. Pal tells us that since the time he joined, efforts to capture the western snacks market have picked up significantly. With a minimal presence in wafers and bridges ensured, the brand decided to aggressively pursue the high-volume, high-growth extrudes category which targets kids.

In July, Bikano introduced a revamped extrudes range consisting of Ringz, Puffees, Cheese Balls, Pasta Crunch and Jungle Safari for children aged three to ten years. The objective was to augment presence in the 16000cr western snacks market, within which, extrudes (6000cr) is the fastest-growing sub-category at 23-25 per cent YoY.

During the launch, Bikano, director Manish Aggarwal had stated that the new range is expected to give the Company a sales surge of up to Rs 15 crore in this fiscal.

Another top gainer of 2020 for Bikano was the sweets category. Explaining the phenomenon, Pal states, “While our snacks TG remained unaffected, as consumer behaviour shifted towards hygiene, we felt the change – a positive one - most prominently in the sweets category, with volumes doubling in the last two years. That’s also when festive became an important part of our portfolio and yearly plans.”

Last festive season, the brand achieved 40 per cent growth over the previous year. It has the same target for this year.

Overall, the Company is eyeing 125cr in revenues from global markets and 1250cr from domestic market in this financial year.

Changing Media Needs

Bikano’s media strategy has been a combination of ATL and BTL, with print (newspapers and magazines), tactical outdoor, BTL activations, PoS branding and digital dominating the mix along with some TV. The brand has collaborated with Chhota Bheem for the launch of its Fatax extrudes range. As its builds the kids-oriented extrudes category, more such associations can be expected to increase the quantum of advertising on TV.

Within digital, Bikano prioritises social media. “We are using the modern social media platforms to build preference for our traditional products among millennials who are more inclined towards western snacks,” Pal remarks.  

Pal has deployed the OTT medium significantly for the brand’s advertising needs in the US and Canada. Commenting on the rather muted presence on Indian OTT platforms, he notes, “OTT brands in the US offer clear audience segmentation, for instance, the Willow TV app is dedicated exclusively to Cricket. The phenomenon is yet to happen in the Indian OTT space, where there’s no evident differentiation, but we do plan to explore it in the coming year.”

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