Ahead of festival season, Nestle India readies premium chocolates foray with Alpino

Vinay Kamath Ponda (Goa) | Updated on March 12, 2018

Nikhil Chand, General Manager, Chocolates and Confectionery, Nestle India

Will rely on digital media to market the range

Nestle India, which has been purveying chocolates in the mass end of the market, is readying its foray into premium chocolates with the launch of Alpino bonbons, an international brand in the company’s portfolio since the 1950s.

The chocolates will hit the market in a few weeks from now, just ahead of the festival and gifting season, says Nikhil Chand, General Manager, Chocolates and Confectionery, Nestle India. “We want to be a significant player in premium chocolates,” says Chand.

Nestle is against formidable competition with Mondelez, with its Cadbury brand, controlling a major chunk of the market, and also against premium imported brands such as Lindt. Nestle claims a 15 per cent share of the ₹7,500-crore market for chocolates, though in wafers and white chocolate it commands a 64 per cent share.

Chand, who joined the chocolate business straight out of IIM-A in the late 1990s, and jokes that he has chocolate in his veins, says Nestle will be innovative in its marketing of its premium range.

There won’t be mass media advertising for the initial 40-city launch, but it will rely heavily on digital media.

‘Innovative marketing’

“We will work with chocolate bloggers, do personalised marketing with premium consumers, have experiential sessions this festive season and offer something unique and different from competition than just do classical marketing,” says a cherubic Chand to media visiting Nestle’s largest chocolate making facility in Ponda, Goa.

Chand says Nestle has spent time in crafting the right product for the Indian market. While the brand will be the global Alpino, there will be local innovations. “We have expertise in three things: chocolate, wafer baking and the ability to combine both of these. So, we gave it to the tech team to see if they could combine our over 100 years of chocolate making into something unique.”

More launches with imports will follow under Alpino, he promises. Bitter chocolates bars, 70 per cent dark chocolates et al will be among the launches.

Chand avers even in the mass end of the market, Nestle does have premium offerings. He points to Munch Nuts, a ₹20 bar which it launched earlier this year. “We put too many labels as marketers. Putting on a consumer’s lens, for somebody who buys a ₹5 Munch regularly, a Munch Nuts is also premium. It’s not premium in the classical sense.”

As a market challenger, Chand says Nestle will continue to leverage unconventional strategies. It recently released a two-minute Munch Macha music video with Shruti Haasan and Shankar Mahadevan, which has already seen two-million hits. It has a tie-up with Paytm where young buyers of KitKat receive mobile money on a purchase and a tie-up with Amazon for this festival season where KitKat buyers scratch a card and receive ₹25 in their Amazon account.

“Chocolates penetration is very low, about 12-13 per cent. We see a lot of scope for growth. We would like to invest in the right brands, leverage innovation and be unique. Not just from a product perspective, but also in the way we market our brands, we want to be a significant and respectable player in the category,” emphasises Chand.

The making of a Kitkat

Published on September 25, 2016

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