Increasing numbers of biscuit manufacturers in India are entering the healthy snacking space, but Mintel’s research highlights the challenges ahead when it comes to selling the healthy biscuit concept to consumers in market. “Healthy” biscuits are slowly emerging as a new sub-category in the Indian biscuit market, with most of the major home-grown companies launching such products. Biscuit launches with functional claims have been seeing a steady increase, even though they accounted for fewer than 6% of the total launches between January 2009 and April 2014.

healthy biscuits

However, Better For You (BFY) snacks have not been particularly well received in India in the past due to the inherent belief that “healthy” snacks have diminished taste. In contrast, the “baked-not-fried’ message has resonated with health-conscious consumers globally.

The leading health-related claim made by BFY biscuits in India is that of reduced trans-fat. While there is no stringent regulation in India regarding trans-fat, several companies have voluntarily started removing it from their products. This indicates their willingness to take a more responsible stance towards healthy foods, but is likely to pay off only if consumers respond.

Companies are also changing their approach in terms of marketing such products to highlight their benefits. Britannia recently launched a TV campaign for NutriChoice that positioned NutriChoice in between healthier foods (like salads) and “junk” foods (like pizza), while encouraging consumers to meet them midway.

Focusing on specific target audiences is also catching on. ITC went with a health-meets-fun approach for Farmlite. In a campaign at the Bangalore airport, passengers were encouraged to pedal bicycles kept near a “non-functioning” conveyor belt. Upon doing so, the conveyor belt brought baskets of the biscuits to the passengers along with the luggage. Given the premium pricing of its biscuits, the company appears to have chosen to focus on consumers able and willing to spend on them.

Such campaigns help to spread awareness of BFY products and give consumers a chance to taste them without spending too much, something that may not happen through only an in-store presence. Given how niche the BFY segment is in India, this may be the way to go initially. Products with specific functional benefits are more likely to appeal to consumers who need them. Partnerships with alternate distribution channels, such as pharmacies (which are becoming popular as a retail POS) and fitness clubs, offer opportunities to reach out to such consumers. Pop-up kiosks in busy areas or near offices also offer scope to reach out to employees with sedentary jobs who are at higher risk of developing lifestyle diseases.

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