The health drink brand from Mondelez walks the tight rope between tradition and trendy to stay relevant.
Bournvita is redrawing its lines of engagement with customers through brand extensions, digital initiatives and different forms of communication as it closes in on its seventieth year in India.
But the brand that was once endorsed by none other than Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, is not changing its positioning or its core values says Mondelez India that inherited Bournvita when it bought over Cadbury in 2010.
Mondelez India Foods Private Limited is a part of Nasdaq-listed Mondelez International, the global snacking and food company. After spending seven decades in the country, Bournvita is number two to Horlicks that dominates the Indian market for health drinks. While the gap between the two is very wide, Bournvita says the company, has been growing faster than the rest of the category.
Bournvita knows its customers well and the company says it does not intend to rock the boat by repositioning or revisiting the brand for the Indian market.
“We keep making small changes that one usually does to maintain the consumer-connect. But, there's no plan to reposition the brand as such,” says Amit Shah, associate director, marketing, gum, candy & beverages, Mondelez India.
Bournvita, according to Euromonitor, has 13.3 per cent share and is second to GlaxoSmithKline whose Horlicks dominates the market in India (around Rs 7,270 crores in 2016) with 51.8 per cent. Bournvita’s share of the market has grown from 12.1 per cent in 2015. Mondelez spokespersons add that while the category of milk food drinks has grown by 4.2 per cent (moving annual turnover as on July 2017) Bournvita has grown by 6.9 per cent (MAT July 2017).
Both Bournvita and Horlicks are old brands and are still going strong in a category that counts India among its biggest markets; what keeps them relevant?
Harish Bijoor, brand consultant, says relevance is a factor of word-of-mouth recommendations and the brand’s purported utility. He adds that Bournvita scores on both points and staying relevant does not mean a continuous change of positioning stances.
Another reason for the success of brands like Bournvita is that in India the category of consumers for milk food drinks is not restricted to 6 to 12 year olds. Even teenagers up to the age of 16 to 17 years continue to be consumers. In fact, Bournvita has further divided the category with Bournvita Lil Champs aimed at children below 6. The brand thus anchors deep in the Indian consumer’s mindspace.
Interestingly, Bournvita did not start its life as a drink meant for children. In a 1937 advertisement, Tagore is seen endorsing Cadbury’s Bournvita with a line: ‘Have benefited from consuming Bournvita’. It was positioned as a premium imported health brand. To begin with the drink was being pitched more for its restorative properties to consumers of all ages, rather than a nutritious alternative for children.
The positioning changed subsequently and was pegged around the core value of 'good upbringing' in 1970s and 1980s, says Shah. The taglines reflected this too by tapping into the parents’ concern for doing the right thing, nutritionally, for their children. From 2010, the brand has stuck with the theme Prepare to Win. Shah says, “The communication was built around the concept that a winner is not always born as one, but practice and perseverance creates one.”
While the brand is consumed largely by children and teens, Shah says that Mondelez does not target kids directly in its advertising and the ads are never shown only on kids' channels. “This is part of a global strategy, the TG is the parent, and in most cases the mother,” he says.
The brand has also tried to differentiate itself from the rest of the market through its communication initiatives. While it is difficult to stand out from the rest of the pack in a category such as milk food drinks, experts say that the company’s advertising line moved away from pointing out the inherent vitamins and proteins to addressing the larger concern that mothers have towards their children’s well-being. This helped carve a distinct brand identity.
In recent years, the brand has tried to extend itself to allied categories using the same health and wellness plank. Bournvita biscuits were launched a year ago and it targets the nutrition plus taste platform in the snacking category, hoping to leverage an association that the brand has built with its consumers over the years.
Its closest and strongest competitor Horlicks has already come up with brand extensions, for kids, for women and others. Does Mondelez have any such plan? Shah does not disclose. “The marketing team is always looking at different opportunities. When we feel the time is right, we would go into the adults segment. It is always under active consideration.”