Strategy behind Britannia Cheese’s 300% growth in online sales between April and August 2020
Britannia Cheese sees 300% growth in online sales | Canva
Britannia is currently the second-largest player in the Rs 850+ crore Indian retail cheese category.

Strategy behind Britannia Cheese’s 300% growth in online sales between April and August 2020

Britannia is currently the second-largest player in the Rs 850+ crore Indian retail cheese category.
  • As consumers started cooking or baking more evolved, gourmet dishes at home during the lockdown, Britannia Cheese witnessed an increase in its demand.
  • We caught up with Gunjan Shah, CCO, Britannia Industries to understand if the brand has been able to retain the demand it saw in the beginning and how it has changed its marketing strategy in the unlocking period.
  • He also told us how the company transformed its business digitally during the lockdown and all about its biggest digital campaign, Britannia Cheese StarChef starring Saif Ali Khan, that brought in the highest growth for the brand till date.
With the pandemic-induced lockdown, consumers started brushing up their cooking or baking skills and eating became more of a family exercise. It brought out people’s hidden talent for cooking, especially among the urban masses, which they were exploring only now, thanks to them staying at home and not having to travel to work everyday. In April, recipe searches also surged on the internet, as people began experimenting with a variety of cuisines ranging from the easy to the complex, gourmet varieties. Cheese became one of the ‘star ingredients.’

Britannia Cheese was quick to recognise this opportunity and it amped up its digital marketing strategy to latch onto the increasing demand for cheese, which became an integral part of consumers’ grocery list -- providing a huge impetus for the growth of the category.

As a result, cheese became one of the highest growing food categories during the lockdown. As per Nielsen’s report on COVID-19 Impact on FMCG & Retail, the cheese category saw a 60% growth. The report also highlighted how the rapidly evolving preference of urban consumers includes cheese as part of the monthly shopping cart.

Strategy behind Britannia Cheese’s 300% growth in online sales between April and August 2020
(Source: Nielsen RMS)

Britannia Cheese saw 300% of its business coming from E-commerce during April to August. To leverage this demand, Britannia executed a three-way plan.

Elaborating on the company’s digital plan, Gunjan Shah, CCO, Britannia Industries, said, “We provided ease of discoverability and convenience to new users on key ecommerce platforms like BigBasket by creating Britannia Cheese Brand stores on the home pages for an extended shop-in-shop experience. Secondly, we have tied up with several subscription-based e-commerce platforms like Milkbasket and Supr Daily, which provide daily essentials delivery services across all major metros. This helped us recruit new users, gain consumer retention and increase stickiness by incentivizing purchase frequency. Thirdly, to strengthen the last-mile delivery, we have also entered into partnerships with portals like Dunzo, Swiggy and Zomato which provide superior hyper local grocery delivery services.”

Star campaign on digital mediums

To become a part of people’s daily meals, Britannia Cheese launched a digital campaign with Saif Ali Khan called Britannia Cheese StarChef. The show transforms Khan into a StarChef as he learns to cook from MasterChef winner Shipra Khanna. It targeted newbie cooks and keen learners and provided easy-to-cook recipes.

Sharing the insight behind the campaign, Shah said, “The dramatic rise in in-home cooking since the outbreak of the pandemic, was the key trend that informed the making of the show. We worked on the insight that every home chef is looking for extraordinary dishes that makes her a star in the kitchen! And Cheese is the magical ingredient that has the power to help make those dishes. The adage ‘Life is great, Cheese makes it better!’quite sums up the universal love for cheese. The Britannia Cheese StarChef show hones in on Cheese as that special, star ingredient that turns a good dish into a dish extraordinaire.”

It soon became the company's best performing digital campaign.

Shah said, “The Campaign was significant on two fronts- first, it is the largest single brand Digital Campaign that Britannia has ever embarked upon and second it has performed the best in terms of the metrics that we track for our digital investments. The Click throughs achieved on our promos have been between 200-250% of the industry benchmarks and the campaign has helped drive a significant spike in growth for Britannia Cheese Year till date. The overwhelming response to the campaign made us take it to mainstream TV media towards the end of August.”

Altering marketing strategy with changing times

The lockdown period proved to be challenging for companies across business verticals in India. There was no rulebook in place for an unprecedented situation such as a pandemic. However, Britannia Cheese understood the magnitude of the situation. To seize the opportunity, it altered its strategies and concentrated on achieving short-term goals.

Sharing how the company responded to lockdown, Shah said, “First and foremost, we responded quickly to the changing consumer preferences by keeping our ears on the ground. The Britannia Dairy Team reached out to over 500 retailers in the first month of the lockdown, analyzed the demand-supply situation and the swiftly emerging consumer trends. Anticipating a rapid uptick in cheese consumption, we worked with our manufacturers to ramp up supply by removing bottlenecks and increasing the supply of the fastest moving formats like Cheese Slices, Cubes, Blocks and ‘Cheezza’. Secondly, on the field, we focused on Pareto outlets to ensure that we get a massive increase in throughput from the same stores. We also mapped geographies displaying a huge shift in consumer awareness and adoption to increase our width and depth of distribution of cheese, in the process leading to a sustained growth in our cheese business and growing revenue from E-commerce by over 300% (Apr-Aug’20).”

Changing consumer preferences after lockdown

Globally, more than 3,000 varieties of cheese are available for consumption, whereas only about 30 to 40 variants are marketed in India. With the changing preference, this presents a huge opportunity for global and local players to grow in the country.

As we start entering the unlock phases, the consumer is demanding a range of products to experiment with. Britannia Cheese is also working on expanding its portfolio to meet this demand.

“We have put the focus on new outlets and towns and will scale up both range and depth to ensure that we are ahead of the curve, while continuing to tap the potential of e-commerce platforms. Driving availability of even smaller SKUs like Spreads and Cream Cheese is becoming more important and hence, Britannia is driving the width of availability,” said Shah.

“The extended stay-at-home period has led to consumers learning how to use the many available cheese formats for the first time. This has led to inorganic business growth in new stores and new towns. Post unlock phase, it’s imperative for us to nurture these stores and towns through loyalty programs, tracking and monitoring,” added Shah.

On the brand’s unlocking strategy, Shah said, “With demand stabilizing, the market is again becoming competitive and hence there is a need to increase investment in the ATL and BTL space. We have now taken Britannia Cheese StarChef content on to TV which still delivers the widest reach for us. We have also increased our in –store investment.”

Britannia’s focus is going to be on staying agile and invested in making the most out of the behavioral shifts and macro consumer trends.

Vision for the brand

Britannia is currently the second-largest player in the Rs 850+ crore Indian retail cheese category. Even post-COVID, it aims to be the consumers’ most preferred ally for culinary experimentation.

“We will continue to build preference for Britannia Cheese. In the past few years, a lot of consumers have made us an integral part of their cooking forays and celebrations. We value this and are committed to stay invested with a unique positioning and taste delivery, peerless quality and easy accessibility. We aim to build an ever-expanding consumer franchise firmly rooted in their passion point of cooking,” said Shah.