Topic – Is Saffola a niche brand? What is the competitive profile of Marico in this product category/line?
Name: Eshita Sharma
Introduction on Saffola
Saffola is a heart care brand in the foods category in India. It has several products in its portfolio which include edible oils, functional foods, rice and salt. Saffola is known to be a brand which is good for heart and recommended by doctors. For the last 10 years, Saffolalife has been educating Indians on preventive heart care through the year. Saffola has over the years built an ecosystem which works actively towards adopting a healthier lifestyle. It’s a brand running on a philosophy to help people get the most out of life. Much before organic food and healthy living caught the fancy of Indians, the Bombay Oil Industries launched Saffola, healthy cooking oil, in the early 1960s. Positioned explicitly as being good for the heart, Saffola grabbed consumer attention with its dramatic communication. Clarion Advertising launched the brand and the early ads created a rather terrifying scenario of a man being wheeled into a hospital on a stretcher with the wailing of ambulance sirens in the background. A distressed wife looking on sought to reinforce the message that food cooked in Saffola could save your life - and your family. Later in the 90s the consumer products division of Bombay Oil was spun off into Marico. The cooking oil market in the 1960s was largely disorganized, with a very large loose oil segment. It was against this backdrop that Saffola was launched on the platform of being 'Healthy for the Heart'. There was no other brand offering this benefit and hence there was no direct competition from within the category. While this message clearly connected with people who had heart trouble - or those who feared it - it also alienated those who were confident they could never have a heart attack. The big challenge was to carve out a niche among the health-conscious. As the noise in the market about healthcare grew and Indians became more health conscious, Saffola was well placed to reap the benefits. The brand is today the second largest in the Marico stable with revenues of more than Rs500 crore. In 2004, McCann Erickson was handed the creative duties and since then the brand has been at the forefront of a number of creative innovations. Campaigns with old Hindi melodies like 'Abhi toh yeh jawan hai', 'Kal se re' and 'Babu samjho ishare' coupled with interesting creative concepts helped showcase the versatility of Saffola. As the momentum for the brand grew Marico started an initiative called Saffolalife.com, a service focused on the health and nutrition aspects of preventive healthcare. It seeks to impart accurate, credible and expert led information. From an era when creating awareness was difficult to an era where every brand is talking the same language, Saffola has exploited its early mover advantage to the hilt.
Saffola as a Niche Brand
According to my analysis, Saffola is a Niche brand with a view of expanding to the much larger segment eventually. Saffola’s focus was mainly on the urban population because of its high quality product and benefits are very difficult to explain to the rural India. If we pay attention to the philosophy of the company, it is very clear that it is targeting a segment which is health conscious. The urban India in other words is the primary target as they understand the importance of health hazards much more than the rural population which lacks education. Saffola is aiming at a wide demographic audience looking for specific features and needs which provides good quality and is within the price range of the population above the middle class. Technology and many industrial practices changed with the post-network era. There is a new drive for niche audiences which Saffola understands because audiences are now in much greater control of what they want. Saffola has ‘LoSorb...