Ready-to-cook foods: Three ways marketers are promoting experientially!


Right from product formulation, use of advanced technology in processing and packaging, flawless distribution strategy, convenient preparation methods, everything seems to work in favour of the ready-to-cook (RTC) foods category. However, this category has seen lesser penetration that expected by industry watchers. There seems to be an evident disconnect between consumers and processors. And hence, most of the marketers are turning to experiential initiatives to promote this promising category.

According to industry data, the total (organised and unorganised) ready-to-cook and eat market in the country stood at USD 13 billion in 2013. According to McKinsey & Co, the retail food sector in India is likely to grow from USD 70 billion now to USD 150 billion by 2025, with 60 per cent of this market belonging to this convenience food category. Here’s examining three communication methods adopted by marketers via experiential initiatives:

It’s a quick fix!

Most product launches in this category stress on the at-home consumption trend. Whereas this is in fact the most relevant communication, it is slightly overdone, as market analysts agree. To create a niche and be unique, one has to try out newer ventures for the positioning of RTC foods. Godrej Yummiez, which comprises vegetarian and non-vegetarian products in its portfolio, has positioned itself as a ‘party-maker’. During all its launches of newer variants, it unfailingly organises a cookery workshop for its consumers in association with a renowned celebrity chef to demonstrate the quick-fix solutions. Vadilal, for its RTC range, stresses on the instant, hassle-free cooking attribute, in case there is the arrival of uninformed guests or if there is a party at home. It stresses mainly on how the cooking time is drastically reduced.

Expanding avenues for trial

There is too much of stress laid on RTC foods being ideal for bachelors or working women for at-home consumption. Instead, to be at an edge, workplaces can be increasingly encouraged as a consumption point, as this communication is unexplored. As Rahul Kulkarni, Director - Marketing, West Coast Fine Foods, says, “RTC products are easy as well as fast to cook, they can be enjoyed even in workplaces and outdoors. Being frozen, its convenience of longer shelf-life makes it an ideal solution for bachelors as well.” To promote this range of products, Fisheteria, a fully-owned subsidiary of West Coast Fine Foods was developed. It is more of a brand extension in the live food services segment which serves as well as retails the ready-to-cook sea food range of West Coast Fine Foods. Extensive product sampling has been our way of ensuring that the end-consumers get to taste the product first-hand without buying the product,” adds Kulkarni.

Gourmet retailer Godrej Nature’s Basket is another player actively supporting growth of this category. It regularly hosts culinary workshops in its premises inviting audience to try out recipes using ready-to-cook/eat products. Its recent workshop featured celebrity chef Aditya Bal. In such activities, which also involve distribution of trial packs post a workshop/tasting session, if the product delivers the quality (read taste) promise, there are high chances that the consumer will stick to that RTC brand with utmost loyalty.

Final touch lies with the consumer

This happens to be the most crucial line of communication followed by marketers. Says Sushil Sawant, AVP, Godrej Tyson Foods, “The urban population which is hygiene- and health-conscious, is increasingly shifting from live chicken to value-added chicken. Lifestyle changes have been in favour of consumption of RTC products. For our entire range, we have strategically left the consumer to add their signature, enabling the homemaker to customise the finished products according to family tastes.”

This communication works in favour of the critical non-urban markets too, which are though slow to adapt and difficult to break-in, have astonishingly high purchasing power. Natasha D’Costa, Industry Analyst - Foods Practice, South Asia and Middle East, Frost & Sullivan, puts forward a deeper insight into the psyche of the non-urban consumer. She says, “In the urban household, mostly both partners are working and, hence, prefer a quick fix meal. On the other hand, in a non-urban setting, where only one member is earning and the homemaker concentrates on the meals, she looks towards nourishment & nutrition as the biggest priority. Simpler, nutrient-based meals will succeed in these areas. Also, the marketing communication needs to be customised towards this section of consumers, besides making the product available at affordable costs.”

This is what is tried to achieve via workshops and live demos organised by brands. The celebrity chef puts forward various innovative measures that can be adopted in order to enhance the final outcome of the dishes.

RTC foods are convenient; they are claimed to be healthy & tasty; and are also attractively packaged. Yet, they are still to find deeper market penetration and acceptance. These coomunication strategies can help the RTC food brands rise above the clutter and reach the market leadership position they aspire to.

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