Oct 1, 2018
ITC wants to market its rice in a very unique and fascinating way. It has decided to distribute a 500grams of rice sample (Sona Masoori variety) by going door-to –door to the prospective customers in Bangalore.
ITC is establishing itself in the packaged rice segment under the Aashirvaad brand, the brand under which it sells flour, instant mixes, salt and spices. Instead of shelving the rice in retail supermarkets, customers will find a surprise at their door with the marketing team giving out the pouches. If the customers opt for it, they can call up the company’s call centre and place a minimum order of 25 kg, which according to ITC, suffices for a south Indian family of 5 for a month.
“There is no reason why this pilot should not work. The only thing that can hold us back is if we fail in the product,” Hemant Malik, divisional chief executive (foods), ITC said, adding that the company worked with the Central Rice Research Institute to develop the rice variant.
When asked about the level of success this plan will have, Malik said the company expects 30 people out of every 50 it talks to in a neighbourhood to taste the product and six of them to place an order. “If not, then I will have to worry,” he said.
ITC pegs the south India rice market alone at about Rs. 1 lakh crore. The market for rice is highly fragmented and mostly unorganized. One of the biggest brands is KRBL’s India Gate. Then there’s, Amar Singh Chawalwala’s Lal Qilla rice, LT Foods’ Daawat basmati rice and McCormick’s Kohinoor basmati rice.
Malik said before marketing, ITC is ageing the rice for at least six months. “That is when it becomes better when you cook. If you make the rice when the paddy is fresh, it is very soft as the starch is not ready for eating. Old rice is fluffier and does not stick,” he said.
Based on the success of the plan, ITC will spread out to the other zones and regions to sell the dominant variety there. It is already selling sona masoori in Bengaluru, the most favoured rice in Karnataka, but will opt for a gobind bhog variety in West Bengal.
ITC’s foods business includes popular brands like Sunfeast biscuits, Bingo salted snacks, Yippee noodles & pastas, and Kitchens of India ready-to-eat gourmet cuisine. ITC plans to launch ready-to-drink, milk-based beverages that will compete with products from the likes of Coca-Cola, Amul and Britannia. The said product, Sunfeast Wonderz, will initially be launched in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Total sales ofbranded food business of ITC was Rs. 8,668 crore for the fiscal ended March 31st. In comparison, HUL ‘s food and refreshment business stood at Rs. 6,379 crore, Britannia’s at Rs. 9,990 crore and Nestle India’s at Rs. 10,192 crore. Nestle leads the chart.