Interview: South market is the biggest consumer of oats for us says, Raghav Gupta, Oateo Oats

Raghav Gupta Oateo Oats

Oateo Oats is fairly bull-ish and claims to harness the power of digital as a brand that promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. Raghav Gupta talks to Media Samosa about the oat brand’s marketing strategy.

The health food segment is growing tremendously and Oateo Oats hopes to keep up its pace with that growth by showing consumers the range of products and the benefits of oats. In a market so cluttered with giants battling it out for a higher share, where does Oateo Oats fit in? Raghav Gupta, Founder, Oateo Oats tells us. He divulges in-depth details about the brand’s India-specific strategy, marketing blueprint, and why digital forms a crucial base platform for performance gauging.


With the ‘Marvel themed’ packaging being the latest offering to lure in consumers, what’s the demographic you are targeting? Since the concept restricts itself to a younger fanbase, how do you plan to reach out to the older segment?

Oats is a cereal that has a consumer demographic from 2-80 years old. Marvel movies do appeal to the younger generation more than the 40+, but we cannot discount the number of parents/grandparents who would take their children/ grandchildren to be able to connect with the same characters.

In fact, it will be that very connection that will draw older parents to purchase the products for their families to share with them healthier meals. We expect this branding partnership to be more appealing for the 18-40 demographic who prefer to carry out their shopping online and prefer brand packages that resonate with them. Our offline target audience is slightly older people who look for a premium product at moderate price points.

Oats have emerged as a popular breakfast cereal on the back of increasing demand for healthy food. What is your strategy to expand your footprint in India?

Oats is more than just a breakfast cereal, and it has the potential to be the third grain of India after rice and wheat. Oats as grain are very versatile, which makes it an apt fit for a country like India where the cuisines are so diverse and we’re constantly customizing to create new recipes!

Right from oats upma, oats chilla to oats as a replacement for more traditional grains, the possibilities are healthy and infinite and that’s what we aim at highlighting via brand communication. To speak about the versatility and many ways to consume it, we think that our offerings speak strongly about this point since we have everything from muesli, soups, oat bran, overnight oats kits to flavored oats on the table for people to sample.

Where does ‘Oateo Oats’ fit into the overall scheme of major giants like Kellogg, Marico, and Pepsico ruling the Oats pie chart?

Oateo approaches oats very differently by showing consumers a range of products and dishes that they probably never considered could be eaten using oats. Oateo also focuses on providing the freshest bowl of oats by having its own mill and ensuring that every pack is packed as a continuous process to milling, an assurance that no other brand can give.

Another idea we’re focusing on is “Oats Around The Clock” wherein we’re pushing for meals made using oats for every ‘eat-hour’ of the day.

What has been the communication pattern followed by the brand to amplify its reach and build awareness? How has social media helped in achieving the same?

Since we are present in multiple markets globally, we are using different marketing tactics. For instance, in Sri Lanka where we are a fairly well-known homegrown brand, we bank on retail and on-site activations as most customers prefer seeing a product before purchasing.

Markets like India have seen tremendous growth in e-commerce and consumers prefer shopping online so we focus on social media and digital collaborations to create awareness. 

How does Oateo Oats’ media mix look like and how much of it does digital occupy?

It’s definitely more of digital media than traditional media outreach. What we are looking at is sharing real experiences of users to generate public interest and establish ourselves in the market – for which, we think digital media works best.

Especially, given the fact that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Oateo is definitely more focused on digital media to tap its target demographics as compared to traditional media. COVID-19 has further amplified the digital push as people are even afraid to touch newspapers. The brand looks to share the real experiences of users to generate online interest so that it can be shared with a broader audience. 

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What are the supply channels utilized for the products to reach the key markets within the country?

Oateo has established partnerships in most states across India so that our oats can reach even the smallest of stores across the country. Our online channels are already active and we are present with almost all of the leading e-commerce websites, including our own website. 

How does the marketing differ vis-a-vis the global stance?

We are adapting a category and region-specific approach to market our products. For instance, our organic range is a hit among new mothers and families, while our overnight oats kit is more of a premium offering that’s also great for gifting. Our communication and branding activities will revolve around product-concepts and talk about our competitive pricing, and continue to establish ourselves as a brand fit for everyone looking for a holistic, healthy and active lifestyle.

The kind of investment and R&D that goes behind re-inventing the product considering the Indian taste and breakfast culture?

Oats is a grain that’s relatively new to Asian countries. The taste profiles and food cultures are so rich and diverse across South Asia that it requires us to better understand the market and plan accordingly. However, most South Asian countries share one unique trait – they are tropical in nature. This makes fruits like Papaya, Mango, and Coconut very familiar and that has led to our Tropical Mix Muesli being a product that most countries can identify with.

The Indian market is still dominated by “Atta” for most meals so our Oat Flour has also been performing very well as it gives consumers a product, they are familiar with and can add oats into their daily food habits. Again, Oateo looks to promote oats as an ‘every meal’ grain rather than just a bowl of breakfast cereal. 

What are the key markets for Oateo Oats in India and how do you plan to tap on those? What are the tools in place to measure the ROI?

The South is the biggest consumer of oats and has been a big market for us, we aim to grow further there especially Kerala where we are already present in 20,000 stores. We will also work on penetrating newer territories like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, and also the East.

We are currently listed on major retail chains like Big Bazar, Hypercity, Heritage, Foodhall and also will heavily target the general trade segment too.

What has been the impact of the pandemic on the business and how did the recovery phase pans out?

Fortunately for us, our facilities have a high degree of sanitation and cleanliness wherein every individual goes through a sanitization process before entering the facility. Our entire production operates on a completely automated line with a single operator in the control room. Even our packaging is fully automated to ensure that no human can touch the food from raw grain to packaging.

The local officials were quite impressed with our established processes and we needed a few additional processes like regular PCR testing to ensure we maintained the safety of all our stakeholders. We were shut for a matter of a few days only and were able to supply oats to every single market when the demand surged. While there were logistical difficulties across the world, we received phenomenal support from all our staff and we were able to supply to those who were facing food shortages. 

What does the marketing mix for 2021 look like for the brand and the budget allocated?

2021 is going to remain an interesting year as we see the world recovering from COVID-19. We will also need to be dynamic and fluid in that sense. We have launched a wide range of products such as Organic oats which has seen a tremendous category growth as people are getting more and more conscious about the quality of food. We have also launched Overnight Oats, a premium DIY kit for muesli.

Our base range of instant oats and rolled oats will continue to be price competitive so that we can further grow the segment. Oateo will continue to grow the range of products to showcase the endless possibilities of Oats in everyday food.




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