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  • Probiotics: Repositioning Bacteria

    Probiotics: Repositioning Bacteria

    Where reputations are concerned, bacteria’s case can safely be termed ‘quite weak’.
    Generations have grown up being told that bacteria are the cause for many of our health problems. Tiny microscopic creatures have been blown out of proportion – a million times over – to be painted devil in all communication. Products that prevent the entry of bacteria into our food, air, life have thrived. Nobody ever told us bacteria can also be good and healthy.
    Then, suddenly, marketers are asking us to gulp some million of them bacteria, over breakfast, and dinner – drink them, eat them, lick them they say. Bacteria can be good for us they tell us; some kinds of bacteria.
    Nice, now try telling that to the average guy or better still, the average mom. Try convincing her to give her little ones a dose of health, via bacteria, and you got yourself a task.
    Factually correct, scientifically proven, Probiotics have been used in food for many years, but it is urban India’s recent engagement with wellness and health that has presented a new opportunity to marketers in our country.

    Probiotic.jpg

    Since milk and milk products are a staple across the country, we have seen a flurry of launches in the last year or so. It started with yogurt and ice-creams with top manufacturers launching their versions simultaneously – Mother Dairy, Amul, Nestlé.
    Other additions have been probiotic drinks – Yakult came up with a milk based drink. Mother Dairy has also launched Nutrifit recently, also a milk based drink.
    In the opportunity, lie the challenges:

    1. Explain Probiotic – the term’s fairly new in the Indian context:
      Companies did engage in some communication around the times of launch, leading to relatively better recall and understanding amongst the top-end customer. The masses though will need much more work in form of direct engagement with key influencers – mothers, doctors, nutritionists etc. Yakult, for example, has appointed Yakult ladies for door-to-door education.
    2. Reposition Bacteria – changing perceptions around bacteria will be a task:
      Do we keep bacteria on the forefront and make it the hero? A 65 ml bottle of Yakult has 6.5 billion of the live bacteria in each pack, much more than competition.However, I am yet to try the drink, for all its promise, the thought on gulping pure bacteria has been quite unappetizing. It is a perception game.
      Mother Dairy’s ad for Nutrifit, on the other hand, brings the promise of ‘immunity’ upfront and makes a much subtler mention of ‘friendly bacteria’. The drink comes in multiple flavours, packing is colourful, so is the communication – featuring a couple of active kids. Nestlé too has done well in terms of multiple flavours for its Nesvita Dahi. That makes the category appealing to a larger audience.

    The market is still very nascent, will it mature towards categorization as the average consumer and the serious health conscious? Or, will the average consumer take on more mature offerings (say Yakult) where health comes first, taste isn’t primary? Both maybe – time will tell.
    Marketers will also do well by differentiating the category through unique packaging and also guiding users on correct usage, including warming any whom the product may in fact cause damage, due to an existing health condition?
    Interestingly enough for a category that demands education, not many marketers are using their websites to that effect:

    1. Mother Dairy: No mention of the category, no FAQs
    2. Amul: Has a link that mentions their sugar-free and probiotic offering but then takes you to their cyber-store. There’s a press release on an award that they won for the probiotic category at World Dairy Summit. No FAQs
    3. Nestle: Has a page for Nesvita and for Nesvita Fruit Yoghurt.
    4. Yakult: I couldn’t find an India website. UPDATE: Shefali left details of the India site – here you go.

    I have been using probiotic yogurt for the last many months – it does work well for my tummy. Have you tried any of these products? How do you think the category will evolve? Social media can play a role, what do you think?
    Do share your experiences and thoughts.

    Disclaimer: Views of authors are personal and do not represent the views of Blogworks, or any of its clients.

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