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Delhi winter has a different kind of feel to it, with temperatures plummeting to as low as 0°C in the peak months. The chill factor makes consumers swear off ice creams. To make optimum use of this period, India’s ITC Master Chef partnered with Lotte brand-owned Havmor ice cream, leveraging the latter’s fleet of ice cream carts. 

These ice cream carts were utilized to sell frozen savories like pizza pockets, burger patties, nuggets and other snacks from ITC’s range of products. It proved to be a win-win distribution tie-up: ITC could provide door-to-door delivery using Havmor’s hyper-local network and, in return, the ice cream giant benefited by lowering its operating costs during its non-peak season. Running through the winter peak months of November-March, potential customers could find these carts via the Google MyMap and pick the ones nearest to them.

A NEW ROUTE-TO-MARKET STRATEGY

In freezing temperatures where consumers tend to be home-bound and crave the comfort of warm food over ice cream, the partnership kickstarted a unique concept of creating a route-to-market with ice cream carts that can reach every nook and corner of India’s Delhi region. Mintel Trend Extend My Brand’ notes how brands are expanding to new territories and categories to field for new business as well as intrigue customers.

Further, one-third of Indian consumers prefer easy food (i.e. quick to prepare) at least most of the time. Frozen foods save consumers the time and the arduous task of outsourcing raw ingredients and making a dish from scratch. The mobility of ice cream carts makes it even more appealing for home-bound consumers as they don’t have to physically go to the market to stock up on their favourite frozen snacks. According to Mintel Trend ‘Straight to You’, consumers are expecting products and services to be brought directly to them, wherever they are.

PIQUE CONSUMER INTEREST IN UNEXPECTED SPACES

Globally, there have been examples of cross-brand tie-ups. Brands are thinking of novel ways to extend their business concepts and entice consumers to try something new. Brands, in some cases, can also experiment with appearing in temporary spaces in the most unexpected places, as explored in the Mintel Trend ‘Popscape’. 

As a tribute to the Danish cultural heritage of making cheese, the Danish Dairy Board came up with a novel idea of a Christmas cheese truck that toured the country for 10 days in cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus to offer consumers tastings and expert knowledge about cheese. In Thailand, car manufacturer Suzuki has tied up with local barbecue chain Bar BQ Plaza, piloting a new food truck concept using the former’s multipurpose truck CARRY. Serving hot and ready-to-eat food in a vending machine, the joint initiative utilizes Bar BQ Plaza’s culinary expertise and Suzuki’s logistical support to offer consumers a new foodservice experience.

In Japan, where vending machines are highly visible in daily life, food producers, catering companies and hotels have started selling fish, grilled meats and desserts that are specially packaged for vending machines to reach consumers who are seeking to avoid grocery trips during the pandemic. Other food brands are also using vending machines to test out product innovations, such as new barbecue meat flavours.

WHAT WE THINK

Even when the effects of the pandemic subsides, the demand for close-to-home and straight-to-you options will likely stay mainly due to the convenience it offers to consumers. Brands can use this opportunity to experiment with unexpected spaces or expand to new territories and categories that create unique touchpoints to bring their products and services closer to consumers – all while satisfying the increasing demand for ease of access and convenience.