Anil Thakraney: How ads helped chocolates treble sales

02 Jul,2012

By Anil Thakraney


Read an interesting story in The Times of India. It reported that chocolate consumption has trebled in India, not in the last 30 years, but in the last seven years alone! This is a huge rate of growth in any product category, and by any stretch of imagination.


So, then what happened? Has India suddenly developed a sweet tooth? Can’t be that, because mithais and other sweetmeats have been part of our tradition and eating habits for centuries together. There must be another explanation. TOI’s story seems to link the growth in choc consumption to the rising income levels in this country. I find this link a bit tenuous. Because rising income usually translates into increased expenditure on consumer durables and other high ticket items, those that import some degree of status to a person’s life. How on earth does a bar of chocolate fit in this scenario? It’s a low cost impulse purchase product, much like all other sweets and snacks. So the answer lies elsewhere.


In my belief, that answer lies inside the marketing office of Cadbury India, the company that enjoys a 70 per cent market share in this category. All those years and efforts the chocolate major has invested in expanding the market in India, to make their brands attractive to the adult segment, have paid off big-time. And Cadbury’s rivals have benefited in the process, too. This is the key reason behind the booming choc market.


Some of you may not know this, but as recently as 20 years ago, chocolates used to be targetted only at kids, and this imagery of the product totally alienated the vast adult population. In the year 1992 if you dared to consume a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar in a public place, you ran the risk of being scoffed at for ‘shamelessly eating a bachchon ka product’. And in just twenty years the market has turned on its head.


And this has been achieved by Cadbury purely on the power of advertising. It took some years, but the results are showing now, and how! The Cadbury commercials have won many awards over the years but their biggest victory has been that they turned the fortunes of the entire category. Cadbury India has shown the world the magic you can do when your strategy is innovative and when the creative work shines. The trebling of the choc market in India is the victory of advertising alone.


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PS: This is why I am so looking forward to watching The Newsroom, the latest, hottest American TV serial. Am excited not just as a viewer, but also as a journalist. It’s high time the media looked at its own self. This is gonna be something else, going by this kickass capsule. Must watch.


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