Indian biscuit giant Britannia Industries became the first biscuit company in the country to leverage e-commerce for brand promotions by joining forces with online retailer Amazon India for a pilot launch of Good Day Chunkies, a super-premium chocolate chip cookie. This launch was made exclusive to Amazon India as part of the gourmet and speciality food store in November 2014 and was priced at INR50 for six cookies.

India is the second largest market in the world for biscuits, with a retail volume of 2.3 million tonnes in 2013 making it a very competitive market and ripe for more innovative ways to reach consumers. This type of activity by Britannia, who held almost a third of the Indian biscuit market in 2013 according to Mintel Market Sizes, was the first of its kind in this category. By leveraging an e-commerce brand, the launch put them ahead of key competitors such as Parle Products and Mondelez.

India is the second largest market in the world for biscuits, with a retail volume of 2.3 million tonnes in 2013

Online grocery shopping in India is still at a nascent stage as most consumers buy food products from brick and mortar stores. According to the Times of India, the availability of biscuits is spread across 6.7 million outlets, of which just 10% are modern retail, for example supermarkets and hypermarkets. Hence not many brands have ventured out into launching products online as it would involve some amount of uncertainty.

But this trend is slowly changing towards companies looking at e-commerce space for distribution, to provide differentiation. In September 2014, beverage maker Coca-Cola had a limited period offer on Amazon for Coke Zero, its low-calorie drink. This took place before its retail launch in the country. The exclusive offer was billed as a success, with sales crossing 100,000 cans in 13 days.

Even though e-commerce has now become a topic of discussion in most Indian households, it still remains unchartered territory for FMCG companies in India, given that the sector’s distribution network largely comprises traditional unorganized trade. It is mileage and buzz from launches, like that of Good Day Chunkies and Coke Zero in India, that is prompting marketers to consider e-commerce for an exclusive test launch.