The pandemic-infused lockdown has affected consumers' lifestyle and behaviours to a great extent. From what they watch to what they eat, consumers' priorities have completely changed. Albeit, it did bring along a silver lining as it gave them an opportunity to spend more quality time, reconnect and rediscover moments of togetherness with their families.
Among many other things, the new normal has affected people’s snacking habits, which has now become more of a family bonding exercise than a personal activity.
As a result, packaged food products like Lay's and Kurkure -- that can be binged on while working, watching content or during weekend watch parties with your family -have seen an uptick in demand for in-home consumption.
PepsiCo's Kurkure has not only seen its penetration in the country increase due to the lockdown, consumers are also ordering it more frequently and in larger packs.
According to Kurkure's recent study, 80% of the families surveyed have started snacking together. It has become a family bonding activity during these challenging times.
To leverage the rising demand for in-home snacking, Kurkure launched a campaign earlier this month to capture how Indian families share an amazing bond in their own 'atpata' and 'chatpata' ways.
Kurkure's supply chain is also up and running now and has almost come to the normal levels to meet the demand.
We caught up with Dilen Gandhi, Sr. Director and Category Head- Foods, PepsiCo India to understand what kind of changes has he observed in consumer behaviour during COVID, how is the snacking category evolving with time and what has adjusting in the new normal taught him.
Q. We are living in unprecedented times today. How is Pepsico's Kurkure sailing through these challenging times?
The nationwide lockdown imposed various challenges for businesses across industries. But with the world gradually coming back to normal, businesses and brands have been innovating and implementing new ways of working in today's times.
Changed consumer preferences led to an increase in demand of online deliveries, especially of food and other essentials. One of the key initiatives we took was to partner with delivery services such as Swiggy and Dunzo to meet in the increasing in home demand and support smaller business.
Our associations with Swiggy and Dunzo, helped us deliver our products, such as Kurkure and LAY’S to our consumers. This further helped us strengthen our direct-tohome services.
We have also been using this time to double-up on market research, helping us always have a finger on the pulse of our consumers. Our findings and internal surveys have helped shape our latest campaign, which aims to express gratitude towards Indian families for their continued support towards each other during difficult times.
Kurkure's latest campaign is an ode to the Indian families and thanks them for always being supportive, entertaining, and adding 'masaledaar fun' to each other's lives.
Q. What kind of changes in demand have you witnessed lately?
As people have been adjusting to the 'new normal', in-home consumption has witnessed a significant uptake. We have witnessed a jump in both penetration and frequency of our food category. There has been a growing demand for our larger packs as in-home occasions have increased manifold.
While the consumers are looking at inhome experiences and seeking convenience, they are also looking at value. We have also introduced various combo packs for our food portfolio creating and further driving in-home consumption.
Q. How have you observed consumer behaviour changing during COVID in the snacking industry?
The current situation requires brands to constantly evaluate the consumer experience and challenges being faced by them. During this time people sought moments of joy and togetherness with brands became the perfect companions in those moments. Several studies have shown that consumers are reassured by positive brand actions and commitments.
This has underscored the need for the brands to be more purposedriven than ever before. Thereby, making it essential to build genuine, empathetic, and transparent communication, which focuses on offering solutions rather than hard-core promotion. Besides Kurkure, even for LAY'S and Quaker our first communication was purpose-driven and the response we have received has been very encouraging.
Q. How did you tweak your marketing strategy to resonate with the consumers in the current challenging situation?
These unprecedented times gave rise to a 'new-normal' world and also altered the rules of a marketer's playbook. Consumers today believe in brands that make a difference. A number of recent studies have shown that brands should not act alone – instead, they should join forces with others and contribute to the cause collaboratively.
We are keeping a close eye on evolving trends of consumer behaviour and redefining our brand strategies accordingly. Keeping the above in mind, we launched Kurkure's Thanks To Indian Families, wherein we leveraged increased in-home consumption and families spending more quality time together.
Q. Your recent campaign tries to leverage on in-home consumption. Tell us a bit about why you decided to change your focus? What does your overall communication strategy look like now?
Earlier this month, Kurkure launched a campaign to express gratitude towards millions of Indian families for their continued support and for entertaining each other in their own 'atpata' and 'chatpata' ways during these challenging times.
The new campaign is based on three key insights. The cultural insight of how India has been known for its family - centric setup, the social insight - which recognizes the deepened bond, uptick in family time and increased connect between family members during the lockdown phase, and the consumer insight which identifies people's need to express themselves in fun and quirky ways.
These insights fit well with Kurkure as the brand has always been about fun times with family in its trademark 'quirky and full of masti'.
It aims to capture the nuances of the relationship that all family members share with each other and celebrates how they have kept one another upbeat even during these times. Going forward, the strategy will be to continue leveraging insights and purpose-driven storytelling and communicating through a mix of channels, led by digital.
Q. Is your supply chain up and running completely?
Our Supply chains are very close to normal levels. All our food plants are functional at this point of time while maintaining the highest standards of safety.
Q. Have you partnered with any e-comm players or delivery partners to bolster your sales?
In the last few months, consumers have been seeking more from the safety of their homes which has contributed to the increased relevance of e-commerce platforms.
Keeping the consumer's requirements in mind, PepsiCo has strengthened its relationship with the e-Grocers like Big Basket, Amazon PepsiCo has partnered with Swiggy and Dunzo to ensure uninterrupted availability of our brands, such as Kurkure and LAY'S to consumers across locations.
Our tie-up with Dunzo has been encouraging, with safe delivery-on-demand and fulfilling our promise of last-miledelivery. We are now working in scaling the model and expanding it to other states.
Q. Did you come up with any out-of-the-box solutions to adjust to the new normal?
We have a big out of the box campaign announcement coming soon. Do watch out the space.
Q. As a leader, what were your learnings from this time?
As a marketing leader, these times have reinforced 2 central beliefs I’ve long held. Consumers will always reward brands who deliver to their needs – right now consumers are looking for brands to take actions that are authentic and true to the core of the brand. The other is that consumers are incredibly resilient and will look to brands that can share that positivity, albeit in a genuine manner.