New Delhi: This is the age of diversification. So can ITC, the Rs 8,000-crore cigarettes-to-hotels company, be different? No, of course not. So, it is getting ready to foray into the crunchy snack foods and savouries market with a brand called 'I.'
The company is marketing a unique snack called 'bischips' under this brand. The product, a combination of biscuits and chips, which, as company officials suggest, ''will be baked and not fried,'' is currently being test-marketed in New Delhi and will be launched in other metropolises in a couple of months.
The snack has been launched in three flavours - tomato twist, creamy onion and cha cha chat - and pillow packs in two sizes priced at Rs 10 and Rs 5, respectively.
ITC, which is banking on the 'nutritious' positioning of its new products, is taking the 'Fried Vs Baked' route to create awareness and to promote the brand. The company officials add: ''Our product is baked, not fried, has less oil and is wheat based.''
Knowing the potential
This move is after the company achieving a good hold in the staple foods, confectionery and ready-to-serve (RTS) foods market. ITC is hoping to give the unbranded as well as organised branded snack food players some competition with the new brand.
The domestic snack foods market is highly fragmented, and is estimated at about 2.9 lakh tonnes or Rs 3,000 crore. More than three-fourths of this market comprises unbranded or made-at-home snack foods.
The organised market has players like Haldiram's Frito Lay India, Bikeanerwala Food and Mother Dairy. Interestingly enough, while the unorganised market is stagnant, the branded market has been growing at 15 per cent every year.
This has motivated ITC to enter the market as, company officials say, ''the snack foods market since it is a large enough market to take more than one or two branded players.''
A teaser print-ad campaign created by the ad agency FCB-Ulka is currently on, which will lead to the launch of the ad shortly. The advertising for the brand will go on air in January 2003.
Earlier this year, the foods division of ITC entered the Rs 1,100-crore confectionery as well as the staple foods market.
In the confectionery market the company launched its first ever confectionery product - the acquired brand Minto priced at Rs 5 (for 20s) and Rs 2 for six - in four cities. ITC acquired the Minto brand from New the Delhi-based Candico, promoted by Sanjiv Kumar.
Though ITC owns the brand, the manufacturing rights remain with Candico. Minto is the second largest player in the mint confectionery category after Nestle's Polo. In the staples market ITC launched atta (whole-wheat flour) under the Aashirwaad brand.
Last year ITC entered the foods business with its RTS brand Kitchens of India. Under this brand, it launched three products, including its popular Dal Bukhara and Chettinad Chicken, in 12 cities. Future products to hit the market include Dal Dakshin and Baingan Mirch Ka Salan.