By Marylou Andrew
The packaged foods category has witnessed significant growth in the last couple of years, helped along in large part by product launches from local companies seeking to diversify their portfolios and take advantage of growing consumer demand. Last year, for example, National Foods (which has traditionally been known for masalas, jams, jellies and squashes) extended its portfolio with the launch of Fruitily, a powdered drink brand. The aim was to take another step towards making National Foods a ‘true foods’ company.
This is precisely what Shan Foods wanted to achieve when it launched its brand of contemporary desserts (as opposed to Pakistani desserts) – Delve Desserts – in September this year. Asma Aman, Marketing Manager, Shan explains that the company has been trying to convert from a masala company to a true foods company.
“We already have several other categories such as traditional desserts, pickles and instant food mixes, however we are best known for masala, and we want to diversify into non-masala categories.”
In researching various potential categories, Shan discovered that in the Rs 1.25 billion desserts category, contemporary desserts accounted for Rs 800 million and that there was huge demand (both local and international) for halal jelly, and thus offered tremendous room for growth.
However, because the flagship brand (Shan) is so thoroughly associated with masala in popular perception, the company created a totally new brand (Delve) under which all of its present and future contemporary dessert offerings will be launched.
The Delve Desserts range currently offers several flavours of custard and jelly and one pudding variant. Traditional Pakistani desserts (sheer khurma, kheer, firni etc.) were already part of Shan’s range and have deliberately been kept out of the Delve brand.
The idea, explains Aman, was to create a line of products that could compete on an international scale, were totally halal and superior in flavour to the range of contemporary desserts offered by Rafhan and National Foods.
Aman doesn’t go into any product development details but says that the company spent almost a year on the packaging to ensure that it was modern, up market and very international in look and feel. The result is dark blue boxes with the red and yellow Delve logo. These no doubt stand out on the shelf, but are also reminiscent of packaging used by Foster Clark for its dessert range.
In terms of price, Delve competes head to head with both Rafhan and National (except that the Delve sachet is Rs 10 higher than Rafhan) but Aman believes that the only real competition right now is Rafhan.
“Rafhan is the clear leader in contemporary desserts but there is no one in the number two position. National Foods has been in the market for six or seven years but their market share is not huge and the gap between one and two is quite large. We want to occupy that spot and we will be able to, because there is a big difference in the taste of this product and that of the market leader.”
In spite of the certainty that emanates from Aman, Delve was first test launched in
only (it has recently been launched nationally) and the media launch was restricted to large billboards, print, and free tasting activities mainly to see what the off-take would be, not only among consumers but also at the wholesale and retail level. Aman claims that Delve was a success from the word go and is now available in 7,000 shops in Karachi . Karachi
Delve’s long term success will depend on the company’s ability to convince target consumers (mainly children between the ages of eight and 14 and their mothers) that they offer a superior product over the competition (both of which are highly trusted brands in
). In this respect, the fact that Delve has actively disassociated itself from the Shan name (with only a tiny logo on the box) may not work in its favour. Pakistan
However, Aman believes that for Delve to be successful, the company must ensure that it is not associated with masala in any way.
“We also need to drive commercial consumption in restaurants as jelly and custard are used in a lot of different formats.”
Shan is still a long way from being considered a true foods company, and Aman is aware of this.
“Contemporary desserts are the first step but we have a long way to go. As marketers we need to identify niches and segments to develop superior products. In the next three to five years, we plan to be known as a global foods company.”
If that is indeed Shan’s ambition, we can expect to see a great deal of activity in the next few years.
First published in the November-December 2011 issue of Aurora.