Lights, lamps and food this festive season

Lights, lamps and food this festive season

Food industry veterans discuss how their brands have fared this festive season.


Mumbai: The festive season brings along with it a basket full of hope, happiness, smiles, lights, and, of course, food! We Indians have a fetish for scrumptious food, and for us, any occasion is incomplete without good food—the festive season, therefore, isn’t any different. Just like most of the other product categories, the food category also saw a slump during the pandemic but has obviously risen from it. With the onset of the festive season, I tried to get a glimpse of how the festival of lights has turned out to be for food brands, the trends and innovations that we witness in this category and much more.

Discussing the revival of the food category this festive season, Greendot Health Foods (manufacturers of the snack brand, Cornitos) managing director Vikram Agarwal is of the opinion that the last two years have been crucial for the food industry. Due to the pandemic, consumers were spending less because they had fewer options. "Now, the spending has increased, which has further increased the demand. The growth is expected for festive season gifting due to the rise in digitisation and an increase in socialisation among individuals as well as corporates," he brings out.

Consumers’ spending on food

Agarwal is positive about the consumer spending this festive season. "The Cornitos’ product portfolio encompasses a whole range of gift packs for people across all demographics, and this festive season we are expecting an increase in sales by 15 to 20 per cent," he reveals.

4700BC's (the gourmet popcorn brand) founder, Chirag Gupta, quips that the season has been phenomenal for them. In comparison to the previous two years' holiday seasons, they are seeing a 60-70 per cent increase in 2022.

"Usually, the average order value (AOV) is Rs 600 – Rs 700. But during Diwali, since a lot of bulk gifting happens, the AOV is about Rs 1,400. Other than this, 25 per cent of all our sales came from the B2B sector, with partners like Google, Microsoft, Discovery Network, Lufthansa, Amazon, and Samsung. So, we can proudly say that the country has been looking at us as a clutter-breaking gift," he exclaims.

Who are these consumers?

Agarwal points out that the youth love Cornitos. "We assure our consumers that their health and taste are not compromised. Consumers have adopted a more health-conscious lifestyle post-pandemic and are also interested in healthy snacking. Cornitos stands out among its competitors in terms of its unique flavours and healthy ingredients. It is a gluten-free snack that is cooked in healthy corn oil and is cholesterol-free," he says. Cornitos’ reach was previously only in the metropolitan cities, but now the demand in tier II and III cities has also increased.

Gupta mentions that the consumers for 4700BC range from the age group of 18 to 40 years. There is an equal proportion of males and females. Purchases come from tier I locations and the rest of the country in equal proportions. They segment their customers into netizens, early adopters, and hedonistic shoppers.

The netizens are the constant scrollers and brand advocates. The early adopters are experimenters, who are always the first group of consumers to cross the chasm and try new offerings. They also include connoisseurs—they believe that food is not just an essential need but an element of pleasure—and, thirdly, trendsetters.

The hedonistic shoppers include, firstly, self-pamperers—it has always been about pleasure attainment for them and the ones who know how to celebrate themselves. Secondly, affluent achievers—they keep looking for a new form of expression to motivate and appreciate their team; and thirdly, blue-bloods.

Although the number of consumers has increased, the purchasing audience of 4700BC has remained the same.

Show me the money!

Talking about the growth in numbers as compared to the festive season of the last two years, Agarwal explains that companies are motivating employees by offering them gifts to celebrate the festivities. He is expecting a 20 per cent rise in demand for corporate gifting over 2021.

Gupta of 4700BC brings out that their revenue growth in the gifting segment was at Rs 21 million and had been increasing. FY’ 22 saw a 1.6x YOY growth to Rs 67 million. He expects a similar trend for FY’ 23, that is, the revenue should reach about Rs 120 million.

"We usually see a jump of 40 per cent in festive sales, and we expect a similar jump this year as well at the minimum level. Last year was also good, but the number of orders was relatively lower in relative growth. This year we are expecting and clocking a lot more," he says.

He goes on, "As per the current data, since the last two years were relatively low due to covid, we are seeing 60-70 per cent growth this year. All we can say is that we are overwhelmed by the response this gifting season and all the efforts in building a distinct tone and narrative have paid off."

Advertising and marketing spends and strategy

Gupta reveals that 15-20 per cent of their revenue is targeted to be spent on marketing during festive times. "The spending has always been defined based on the sales and offtake of the year. We are always known to be wise spenders. We are very mindful of our growth, and we frugally spend to always keep the top line healthy," he adds.

This year, 4700BC wanted to build its long-term narrative of how Mr. BC makes the most of the present. A character whose madcap personality could carry this gifting narrative for many more years to come. "We intended to create a distinct space in the entire gifting culture of the country. Over the years, the advertisements we saw across festive seasons became monotonous and non-experimental. So, we were like, we want to start a new narrative," Gupta says.

However, he is quick to say that they did not want to be specific to Diwali or any festive occasion and wanted to create something that could have longevity all year round. "Essentially, cost optimization. Those intriguing content building blocks were the gangster party and then the divorce party. Also, it helps us stay true to our core—international," he states.

Over the last two years, 4700BC has built its gifting range. Even for Diwali, they had beautiful packaging for The Pataka. Over the last few years, they have shared information about the products and built awareness about them.

Agarwal of Greendot Health Foods elucidates that they have a media plan in place and marketing spend is going on during the festive season. They have utilised social media, print ads, in-store branding, and festive exhibitions to reach their consumers.

Trends and innovations

The challenge this season, according to Gupta, is clutter—the number of product options available to consumers and the amount of communication each brand uses. These are the innovations that we will see this festive season. Brands should develop new and unique products and communicate to get the consumer's attention. The gifting market’s size from FY’ 22 to FY’ 25 is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent, from Rs 12 billion to Rs 21 billion.

This year, with the return of the festivities and the pandemic receding to a great degree, the ceremonial festival exchange of gifts in larger numbers has been anticipated, says Agarwal. Consumers have adopted a healthy lifestyle in the past two years. Cornitos offer healthy and flavourful festive packs that are always in demand.

With the rise in digital usage, our everyday life starts with our phones and ends with them too. Everything has become so much easier with e-commerce sites, through which customers can explore and shop for their favourite products without leaving their houses. Cornitos also launched their own shopping website in 2020——for the convenience of our consumers and are getting festive packs ordered through it.

Cornitos has launched festive packs called "boxes of joy," themed specially crafted gourmet selections. The brand differentiators are attractive packaging and combinations of exciting flavours and products for delightful munching moments in the festive season.

Agarwal wraps up, "This festive season we see innovative food products. More healthy products will be on the retail shelves. Easy-to-cook/packaged food is more preferred these days due to a busy and active lifestyle."