Anuj Rustagi, Chief Operating Officer ITC foods – Chocolates, Coffee, Confectionery and New Business at ITC Limited, takes us through the journey of the luxury chocolate brand, Fabelle, and its marketing efforts through various media channels.
Fabelle, ITC’s luxury chocolate brand, launched its Trinity – Truffles Extraordinaire collection on Oct 22, 2019. As the brand gets listed as the world’s most expensive chocolate under Guinness World Records®, we speak with Anuj Rustagi, to take us through the journey of the luxury chocolates.
Rustagi shares how Fabelle aims to “translate the intangible concepts of the brand to chocolate experiences” through its marketing initiatives, and more.
Tell us about the disruptive line of chocolates by Fabelle, ITC.
Fabelle started 3 years ago and it is different as it aims to bring in curated, world-class chocolate experiences to Indian consumers. Diwali is a time when people are looking for exclusive things to gift, hence this is the time when we launch our products.
On the same lines, the Trinity collection is launched to translate the intangible concepts of the brand to chocolate experiences and that is where craftsmanship comes in the picture. The collection is in line with a more spiritual aspect to express that in a more chocolate form. This requires partners like Chef Philippe Conticini to bring this to life.
What are the marketing techniques you leverage to stand out in the chocolate industry?
The current collection is marketed through more word-of-mouth and PR. Because it is a limited collection and made to reach a select clientele.
But as a brand, digital is an important medium for us because we are available only in 6 metros. At our scale, it is the right medium for us to utilize.
Fabelle, ITC’s home-grown brand is positioned as luxury chocolate in the market. Who is your target audience?
All chocolate consumers deserve better chocolate experience. We cater to a large audience who demand better chocolate experience. We have luxury chocolate bars to gift hampers to trinity chocolate collection with a varied range of prices. But each product has a select audience.
While B2B is an important part but it is not the same as HORECA as we do not supply ingredients. However, institutional sales and corporates sales are relevant for gifting purposes for us.
What are the challenges faced to market the brand on Digital media and other media channels?
The world has evolved from digital marketing to marketing in a digital world.
We have a consumer data center where we do social listening, track trends, respond to consumers. The brand does a lot of research on digital platforms including AI systems based on eye-movement, emotions or sentiments, and commerce.
Last year, we started directly to the consumer through the ITC store exclusively for Fabelle where we also included coffee. Over time, we will keep adding other products from ITC.
How effective is traditional media when it comes to marketing luxury chocolates?
It is horses for courses. I do believe that there are advantages to each media. When we make a media plan, Television still provides the lowest cost per reach, you reinforce with Print.
If you have a digital audience, it will include a digital-first plan but in other cases, it will supplement reach or frequency based on the marketing objective of the audience. We use digital to build brand equity in the market, as well.
Brands are at various stages of evolution. Based on the marketing tasks we use digital as well as traditional media. I think it is not either-or but an ‘and’ game.
It is the role of the marketer today, to understand this and use the media as appropriate.
Could you tell us about your marketing strategy with respect to packaging?
For a luxury-end product, the packaging is certainly an integral part. Packaging has a functional role as well as is relevant in terms of aesthetics. So, it’s not just self-consumption, education of the product but also for gifting purposes.
So, a lot of our boxes are handcrafted. The materials used are quite exclusive. We are fortunate to have good suppliers who have an understanding of packaging with expertise and experience in the FMCG industry.
What role does retail play in marketing for the brand?
We are entering into the chocolate industry. There are some product offers present in retail including some of our luxury products say in Foodhall, Nature’s Basket, etc.
This includes experimentation with front-end exclusive boutiques and Fabelle shops in our hotels. These play an important role and are part of the strategy. But the range and pricing are different. We do an economic evaluation of channels and of delivery of the right consumer experiences.
Tell us about 3 festive marketing tactics to stand out, this season via social media channels.
If your brand has both the expertise and consciousness of being relevant to the festival, do market.
Second, you have to be conscious of the sentiments because you are dealing with embedded emotions. For example- In Independence Day, we chose to launch 6 chocolate bars which included different ingredients from different regions of India to show the diversity which unifies in the thought of what India is.
Therefore, it’s not just about a festive pack. Here, this is about gifting and exclusiveness and worship of Laxmi. So, personalization is a big thing for such occasions.
Please share some tips with the marketers on FMCG Marketing.
Find your brand purpose and stay true to it. Why do you exist, a lot of your marketing mix stays in alignment to that. How do we create the fact that every chocolate is not Fabelle, is something we look into.
Second, marketers are also responsible for business and not just brand equity or creating a great ad. It’s about – does it move your business? There, it has to be a measurable marketing impact.
This is something we even do at Fabelle and would advise the budding marketers as well.
What does the marketing calendar look like for Fabelle in 2020?
- Innovation will play a big role.
- Festive and moment marketing is also something which is in our calendar
- We are also connected with various Chocolatiers.
- Specialized events such as Chocolate masterclasses are conducted. We run this regularly even invite influencers on such occasions.