Licious’ lessons in creating a new category - UnCrave done right

UnCrave, a plant-based meat brand owned by Delightful Gourmet, which also owns the meat delivery service Licious, has hired comedian-actor Vir Das as a brand ambassador. UnCrave knows how meat-lovers feel when they are deprived of meat and fills that void with the most meat-like, vegetarian option possible with its plant protein-based meat products. The actor will also perform a campaign for the business that will consist of a series of videos, the first of which is titled ‘Without Meat’, in which Das explains a life without meat in his distinctive flair.

Created by Tilt Brand Solutions, the campaign features a series of films in which Das discusses various events from the perspective of a meat lover. The commercial also heralds the introduction of a new product by the company, the ‘Mutton Galouti Kebab’.

In conversation with Adgully, Simeran Bhasin, Business Head - Alternative Protein, Licious, speaks at length about the newly launched product, their TG, USP, campaigns planned and much more.

What led Licious to launch plant-based meat?

No one knows about excellent quality, fresh meats, and seafood like Licious. So, when it came to creating the meatiest, tastiest, and most wholesome plant-based meat alternative, we had to take the lead. Licious is the only Indian company to house both animal and alternative protein under one roof. We wanted to provide an alternative to our consumers and satisfy their meat cravings on all days without compromising on taste and nutrition. Two years of research on alternative proteins and a deep understanding of meat-eaters’ preferences resulted in UnCrave – making it unlike any other alternative. A superior, meat-like taste is our biggest USP, that’s why we spell our products with a tilde (~), signifying the products’ similarity to meat in almost every aspect.

What is the target audience and market for this?

The domestic market size for plant-based meat in 2030 has been projected to be around Rs 1,800 crore. Around 70% of the Indians are meat eaters, with 81% of Indians consciously abstaining from eating meat for one reason or the other on certain days, so we’re essentially a flexitarian market. The market may seem relatively small, but the critical task is to create relevance for this new-to-the-market category. We intend to grow the market and take the largest share in it.

UnCrave is the answer to ‘no meat’ days, targeting meat-eaters in India. The addressable market for the category is the same as the meat market, the ‘flexitarians’. We wanted to offer our consumers the freedom to choose their preferred source of protein.

Why did you select Vir Das as the ambassador for the brand?

UnCrave’s brand persona has been crafted as a light-hearted brand with a childlike imagination and highly animated expressiveness – much like Vir. We are excited about working with Vir and believe his brand of humour brings alive the brand message in a simple, relevant, and engaging manner. We have an entire campaign planned where Vir brings alive a life without meat and how UnCrave comes to the rescue in such situations. A meat-lover himself, Vir is a firm believer in giving into meat cravings whenever you crave it. Marked by his signature wit and style, Vir addresses the many myths and concerns about plant-based meat, driving more conversations around the category. The task of category creation is undoubtedly a long, drawn-out affair, and we intend to have fun while we’re at it.

How has the overall performance of UnCrave been so far?

We are overwhelmed by the initial response. We have a very healthy repeat rate which is a positive sign and a big nod to the acceptance of the product and category. The feedback is so pointed and nuanced, unlike any other category, and we are continuously engaging with consumers on a large scale to test products before launch.

How have your ad spends been?

After building organic traction and conversion through sampling, we started the brand campaign. We are a digital-first brand and that dictates how spends will be allocated.

What are your marketing strategies? Are there any campaigns planned?

The marketing strategy revolves around demystifying the plant-based meat category for consumers and creating relevance for the category in their meal moments. Being a nascent category, the focus will be to grow the category and take the largest share of it. This will involve creating awareness and relevance for the category via the education route. Vir Das is our brand ambassador, and we have launched our first film in a series of many. We have an entire campaign planned, where Vir brings alive various scenarios of life without meat and how UnCrave comes to the rescue in such situations. Marked by his signature wit and style, Vir would address the many myths and concerns about plant-based meat.

How are you leveraging digital?

UnCrave is a digitally native brand. With a prolific D2C parent brand like Licious, digital media is a natural choice. Our choice of brand ambassador is also reflective of this – Vir Das has a relevant digital presence and following and makes a lot of content that’s consumed on social and other digital mediums. So far, the media focus has been on building awareness through top-funnel activities like targeted CRM communication, a social media presence, specifically Instagram, information dissemination through blogs, and a presence on search. The Vir Das campaign will see our spending on the video format grow disproportionately compared to static content, focusing on growing awareness through a reach and frequency approach.

What are your plans for 2023?

2023 is a year of expansion for us, both in terms of product portfolio and markets. We are currently present in Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Bangalore and Pune. Based on the learnings and feedback from there, we will be entering new markets with a broader range of snacks.


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