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Lemon rice and Lay’s wafers: Pepsi hits a spice spot in South India

Jun 3, 2019, 14:41 IST
Reuters
  • Lay’s Wafer Style mimics the crunchy papad to turn into a ‘meal must-have’
  • Lay’s will be adding to a long list of traditional South Indian snacks like murukku, banana chips and tapioca chips
  • They recently launched Kurkure Masala Munch with gingelly oil which is used in South India
PepsiCo has built its Lay’s brand in India by experimenting with Indian flavours, adding in as many ‘local’ tastes as possible. During this process, the company discovered that they can bite into the South Indian market much easily as chips and wafers are a part of the meal, unlike anywhere else in the country.
“Our Southern consumers love a delightful crunch and texture on their plate. Their meal is incomplete with the taste and crunch of the popular chilli or pepper papad,” explained Dilen Gandhi, Sr Director, Marketing – Foods category, PepsiCo India. The company launched a new product called Lay’s Wafer Style which mimics the crunchy papad, and turn into a ‘meal must-have’.

Pepsi has decided to put more muscle into marketing and innovating in a growth market like India. This is one of the few markets for the global major, with ‘double digit’ growth, Pepsi said in its annual report. The company does not provide nation-wise growth numbers. Overall, the snacks business has been growing at 5% for the cola major, contributed heavily by growth in India and China.

Tea-time to meal-time
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In South India, the market is wider and better. Everywhere else in the country, snacks are a tea-time affair but being an integral part of every meal can increase their volume and also regularize sales. Their latest venture is to supplant a traditional fried and homemade pappadam, and integrate into South Indian meals.

“Lay’s Wafer Style will prove to be the perfect companion to their traditional Sambhar rice (lentil stew rice), Rasam Rice (soupy rice), Dal Rice (lentil rice), Curd Rice, Lemon (flavoured) rice, or Palak Pappu Rice (Spinach lentil rice),” said Gandhi. This product has been launched across a range of salt and chilly flavours.

Many states, many flavours
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The South market is as broad as it is deep. The chips and snacks market is extremely fragmented with local brands at every nook and corner especially in South India. Lays will be adding to a long list of traditional snacks right from murukku to banana chips to tapioca chips amongst others. They will also have to compete with makers who has mastered the needs of the market for years.

For this global player, these new products are a step in that direction, competing with the price and taste of a multitude of localized players. Pepsi claims that their products have been received well in this market. They have recently launched Kurkure Masala Munch with gingelly oil which is the most used oil in South India. The American food and beverage company has managed to identify a sweet spot common across the five states of Southern India.

This strategy of customizing their products to suit local tastes across this diverse country, is not limited to South alone. They will be taking up more such products deep into the various flavours across India.
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“Wherever we see an opportunity for a local connect with consumers, we have been and will continue to customise our offerings accordingly,” Gandhi said. With Indian subcontinent that has a multitude of needs, expanding in variety is the need of the hour; which is something Pepsi has learnt in the last 30 years of its operations in India.
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