Sugar Free

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DIAGNOSES
presents analyses of the management case by academicians and practitioners

Sugar Free
Preeta H Vyas

Case Analysis I
Milan Agnihotri
Group Director Brand Planning and Innovations McCann Worldgroup Malaysia e-mail: Milan.Agnihotri@mccann.com

S

The current issue of Vikalpa has published a Case titled, Sugar Free by Preeta H Vyas. This Diagnoses features analyses of the case by Milan Agnihotri, Anita Basalingappa, Sanjay Kumar Kar and Deepak Bhatt.

ugar Free as a brand has come a long way in twenty years of its existence. It has transformed from an ethical brand of sugar substitute for diabetic patients to a FMHG (fast moving health goods) brand for calorie-conscious, busy, and healthy lifestyle-seeking urban dweller. In the journey, the brand has gone through substantial changes in packaging and distribution. It has earned undisputed market leadership and has gained strong equity amongst consumers, retailers, and health experts (chemists and physicians). With the backing of its financially sound owner, Sugar Free is now preparing to enter the next phase of lifecycle where it is up against the better featured products as well as the marketing savvy and deep pocketed competitors. Stakes are high for Sugar Free due to environment changes in terms of category acceptance, evolved consumers, and heightened competitive activities. To deal with the new reality, Sugar Free has launched a drink variant named D’Lite and is heavily sampling it to dispel myths about artificial sweetener category as well as to generate brand interaction and trial. On marketing communications front, it is contemplating to embark upon a new brand endorser strategy and has roped in ‘Bipasha Basu’ – one of the leading actresses of Indian cinema, known for her fitness consciousness. Bipasha has been signed as the brand ambassador and the lead protagonist in TVC – which is going to be fundamentally different from the previous communication platforms. The new TVC featuring Bipasha Basu presents Sugar Free as a symbol of health-oriented lifestyle as opposed to the product benefit of lowering the calorie intake, highlighted in all previous communications. As it moves forward, Sugar Free has to carefully evaluate its TVC theme, brand communication strategy, IMC approach, and brand interaction opportunities to leverage its current strengths and exploit the situation in its favour.

The Situation: Where Do We Stand?
With 70 per cent market share, Sugar Free is leading the category in an INR 1.2 billion sugar substitute market (estimated in mid-2000) that is growing at 20 per cent per Note: The views expressed are personal.

VIKALPA • VOLUME 36 • NO 1 • JANUARY - MARCH 2011

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annum. Sugar Free is best positioned to exploit the market in its favour as it has twin offerings in Asparatame (Sugar Free Gold) and Sucralose (Sugar Free Natura) – two fast growing sub-categories within the sugar substitute market. Sugar Free follows an umbrella branding strategy, positioning its variants on the basis of primary usage – table top vs. cooking — and not on product attributes. However, there is a growing competition in both the subcategories. Brands like Kalorie 1 and Sweetex have entered in the Asparatame sub-category. Equal, an existing brand having Asparatame as main ingredient, is likely to heighten its activities with its marketing rights moving from GSK (primarily a pharmaceutical and consumer health company) to Heinz (a FMCG company). At the same time, Alembic is introducing Zero, which is made from Sucralose, and has an aggressive marketing communication and promotion plan. Zero aims to garner 10 per cent market share within one year of its introduction. The launch of SugaRite and Steviocal, based on Stevia plant, is also going to increase noise and activity in the category and will add to the consumer vocabulary regarding the category. As a leader, Sugar Free is vulnerable. Most of the new entrants will benchmark it in their...
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