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INTRODUCTION

With the younger generation being low on
time and culinary skills and high disposable incomes the receptiveness of the
Ready to Eat (RTE) foods has sharply increased.

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This has led to an acceptance of RTE foods
and has led to a market for foods such as foods such as noodles, pasta, masala
packets, stuffed paratha to name a few. There are so many such ‘instant’ foods
available in the market. Other than national players in this field like Nestle,
PepsiCo, ITC, Haldirams, Calvinkare, there are many regional players who are
making their foray into the ready to eat segment. Rapid urbanization is also
one of the reasons to buy such products factors (Pradeepa, V  & Kavitha, G 2013) . The country’s
ready-to-eat (RTE) food market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 22%
during 2014-19 and becomes imperative to market these goods better as this is
still an under penetrated market.

STRATEGIES

1.     
Product

Time factor,
Taste & Aroma & Packaging were ranked 1, 5 & 8 by consumers in a
consumer behavior study conducted considering 11 other factors (Pradeepa,
V  & Kavitha, G 2013). RTE foods
should invest considerable amount in product innovation and ensure that the
regional idiosyncrasies with respect to cultures and eating habits are taken
care of. Indians have always been a variety seeking consumer when it comes to
food so having a wide variety of foods (Pradeepa, V. & Kavitha, G. 2013)  catering to the different regions need to be
produced and if any additional condiments are required could be provided by
sachets with the food package.

The packaging
needs to be attractive and should contain detailed instructions on how to cook
the product so as to be as less fussy as possible, with clear expiry dates as
this builds trust in the brand and most critically the food should get cooked
in the fastest time possible.

2.     
Pricing

Indians are
extremely price sensitive when it comes to RTE foods and loyalty and brand
affinity take a back seat when the price increases leading to a switching
behavior and hence the prices should be competitively marked.

3.     
Place

RTE foods have
gained a budding acceptance among the urban and semi urban consumers and
retails stores are usually stocked with these but companies should look at
stocking the local “kirana” stores to increase reach and reduce time required
to buy increasing purchase frequency and should be made available via
e-commerce platforms so that bulk orders can be done as perishability is not an
issue.

4.     
Promotion via Consumer Behavior

Promotion
becomes the most critical feature as the consumer is still in the nascent stage
of acceptance of RTE foods and needs to be influenced to buy. A few suggestions
as below

With the rising
trend of healthy eating a moderately fear inducing campaign based around diabetes
(India is the diabetics capital of the world) and growing waist lines could be
configured explaining the optimum nutritional level with proper comparisons to
normal eaten high sugar foods (idli, dosa etc) can be run showing the
nutritional benefits.

Promotions
should be aimed at working women who are increasingly competing with men on the
work front but are still expected to do much of the heavy lifting in the kitchen,
with the acute shortage of time they are the ideal target customers.

With long
working hours on the week days and weekends dedicated to entertainment, rest
and taking care of kids (increased nuclear families) the weekend breakfast
provides the best avenue for a family to get together and have tasty,
convenient and easy to cook food. The emotional appeal directly appeals to the
consumer value of “a family that eats together stays together”

Promotional
events in high visibility areas such as malls and exhibitions where RTE foods
should be cooked and served and the consumer is asked to guess which is home
cooked food and which is RTE , when both are RTE prepared food to show that the
quality and taste are equivalent to what is cooked  at home.

Involve the
consumer in creating different uses for the same product such as say RTE “poha”
with curds or with “bhujia” along the lines of what Monaco did with plain
simple salt biscuits and what maggi did successfully with “Tell us your Maggi
story “with the winners faces being placed on the products raising customer
involvement in the product by subjective norms.

Tie up with
Indian national railways, metros and OLA share to cater healthy, hygienic and
easy to make foods for the ones who are time pressed and when healthy food
options are not easily available as well as in tough to access areas such as
North East India.

Compare with
well-established fast foods ( a la McDonalds or KFC)  which are unhealthy but show ads that
propagate freshness. In order to market RTE foods as an acceptable alternative
as well as to enable easy comparison as home-made fast food which is fresh and
has a traditional twist while taking care of freshness concerns and a deeply
imbibed Indian preference to eating at home.

Tie up with
disaster rescue teams in times of catastrophe to provide food relief via RTE
products.

Going forward
the RTE segment will face immense competition from food delivery apps
especially on the freshness and time factor. The broad marketing strategy would
be to create a market and ramp up distribution so that the local “kirana” shops
are well stocked with variety and continue ads on freshness and customer involvement.

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