(Published in Aurora Magazine, May-June, 2009)
By Jahanzaib Haque
It is summer time in Pakistan and in the province of Punjab where temperatures are set to climb to over 40 degrees Celsius, the seasonal tussle over ice cream dominance is underway.
This time around, the streets of Lahore have been decked out with a string of surreal props and banners; five foot tall cut outs of ice lollies and cones stand amidst castle back drops and rainbow coloured shrubs. It is childlike, yet psychedelic – simple, yet intriguing.
This is the launch of Omoré, Engro Foods first step into the ice cream category.
For Engro Foods, this expansion was the logical next step in building the company’s portfolio. However, when compared to the massive milk market, in which their brand, Olpers’ is a resounding success, the overall market size for ice cream is a much smaller 60 to 70 million litres, of which 20 million is unbranded ice cream.
However, the team at Engro Foods feels the timing for the launch of Omoré is critical, and that time is now.
“We launched an ice cream range because the market is quite lucrative,” says Adeela Khan, Assistant Brand Manager, Engro Foods.
“Currently there is only one major player, Wall’s, which holds 70% of the market share. Then there are numerous smaller players like Yummy and Igloo, but they are all regional. There is no challenger brand as such so that position is really vacant.”
Hoping to fill that gap, Omoré was rolled out in the Punjab in March with much fanfare and hype. While most companies would baulk at the thought of the massive investments required to develop and market a product in an economic downturn, at Engro Foods, the thought process is reversed. As Khan explains:
“We have been working on Omoré for a year and a half, and the culture at Engro Foods is such that we want to go against the tide. We feel that in this recession lies our opportunity to capture the market.”
Research intensive: Following a similar path to that of Olpers’, a large part of Engro Foods’ investment has gone into research at every stage of Omoré’s development, including a nationwide consumer usage and attitudes (U&A) study focused on the ice cream category.
“We researched all the players in the market and then tried to strike a balance between affordability and being a value added product,” says Frayan Mama, Brand Manager, Engro Foods.
“There was a lot of research conducted regarding the brand name, packaging, product sampling and more.”
While the focus at this early stage is on getting the basics right and competing with second tier ice cream brands, when it comes to brand image, the Omoré team is clear that the aim is to be at par with Wall’s.
“In developing the name we wanted to created synergy with the O from Olpers’,” explains Khan.
“It’s a coin name. The connotation is because it’s an ice cream the consumer would want ‘more’, and of course, it’s ‘more’ delicious!”
Going emo: With amassed consumer insight in hand, Omoré has been built on the emotional platform, rather than behavioural or functional attributes.
The focus of the campaign has been ‘the art of happiness,’ (subtly derived from the Italian word ‘amoré’ which means love). According to Mama, the role of IAL as the agency behind the “master brand” has been critical from the inception of the product.
Working alongside the Omoré team, IAL has developed a full 360-degree campaign across all ATL media, with a particular focus on extensive outdoor and POS.
Khan says the campaign is still in its opening phase and in the coming months many new and exciting promotional efforts will be executed.
Currently, Omoré has 24 SKUs with prices ranging from five rupee lollies to Rs 150 tubs. Additionally, a kids range has been developed and further extensions are in the pipeline. While many of the expected flavours and forms of ice cream have been introduced, some innovation has taken place within the various segments under Omoré.
Based on their research, the Omoré team has introduced an ice lolly which contains three different flavours (lime, orange and raspberry) layered around each other. Catering to the intricacies of the desi child’s palate, a mini kulfi has been developed, but excluding the almonds and pistachios which kids rejected during the sampling.
Such a vast range developed for the various segments of the market emphasises the genuine challenge Omoré plans to lay down for the competition.
According to Mama, Wall’s has already begun to respond with price reductions and has dropped their Choc Bar price from Rs 12 to Rs 10. Mama says Omoré also has the advantage of being a genuine dairy product compared to Wall’s, which is technically a ‘frozen dessert’ due to being made from vegetable fat.
So far the launch of Omoré has been limited to the Punjab and according to Mama, there is no specific timeline for a penetration into the provinces. He hints, however, that the response in Punjab will determine whether the brand will be introduced in Sindh in a period of months or over a year.
Part of the problem of such expansion is the cost involved, as aside from the issue of cold storage, Engro Foods is handling the entire distribution for Omoré, cutting out the middleman, a move which reflects the company’s refusal to compromise on the quality of their product.
Having developed Omoré in the same vein as Olpers’ (down to its emotive brand platform), the battle for ice cream supremacy seems to have a major contender at hand.