We expect another strong festive season with around 20% growth: Mohit Khattar
With a rich history spanning three decades in India and almost eight decades globally, Baskin Robbins has managed to adapt and evolve alongside the changing preferences of Indian consumers. In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Mohit Khattar, CEO, Graviss Foods - Baskin Robbins, speaks at length about the ice-cream brand’s strategy to remain the household name for several years; their plans for festive season; plans of expansion and much more.
Baskin Robbins has been a household name in India for three decades. How has the brand managed to stay relevant and continuously evolve to meet the changing preferences of Indian consumers, especially after the recent rebranding, what are the new changes observed?
Baskin Robbins has been around in the world since 1945 and in India for the last three decades. In these 30 years in India, a lot of things have changed. Just as the country has grown in every aspect, so has the brand Baskin Robbins. The flavours have evolved, the range of products has grown from mere ice creams to a wide range of ice cream based desserts, the style of communication as well as the platforms on which we reach out to consumers has undergone relevant changes. The parlours, too, look quite different from those of a decade ago. Even, the brand logo itself has undergone two radical changes in these 30 years. To my mind, for any brand to stay relevant, it needs to consistently adapt and evolve. Baskin Robbins has done pretty much that. The only thing that has remained rock solid is the brand ethos. We still manufacture 100% vegetarian and dairy-based products and we still give thrust on spreading happiness through our products.
Could you tell us more about the strategies and efforts Baskin Robbins has employed to cater to the diverse Indian palate while maintaining global quality benchmarks?
India is such a vast country, where the desires and tastes of consumers vary widely. Fortunately, Baskin Robbins India is in a position where it can select the finest flavours and the finest ingredients from around the world for its products in the sub-continent as well as innovate and create absolutely fresh flavours here. We do a bit of both for our consumers here. Just to give you an example, on the one hand, very recently we introduced a blueberry with white chocolate flavour and on the other hand, we introduced a caramel milk cake. On the one hand, we introduced cheesecake sundaes and on the other hand, we brought in Gulab Jamun sundaes. We have done this consistently over the last couple of years and balanced out our offering.
Again, the core guidance that we create and serve products with only the finest ingredients from qualified sources as well as quality and quantum of dairy fat stays constant. So, we are able to maintain the same creaminess and mouth feel that consumers can get pretty much anywhere in the world and expect from Baskin Robbins – while giving them a fairly wide range of exotic flavours to choose from. Also, I must add that we operate a very modern and well equipped manufacturing facility that enables us to offer and maintain global quality standards. From this facility, we also supply to other parts of the world too.
The festive season in India sees a surge in demand for desserts. How does Baskin Robbins plan to capitalise on this demand and provide unique and appealing flavours that resonate with local tastes?
While local flavours are of course popular, it’s a myth to believe that consumers resonate only with those. Fortunately, consumers in India have evolved. The festive season is seen as a time where they like to indulge – not just in local favourites, but also the very best that may be available from around the world. It’s seen as a time to be merry, to enjoy and to indulge. To coincide with the festive season, this year, too, Baskin Robbins will be introducing a slew of new innovation-led products – both in terms of new exotic flavour introductions as well as new dessert concepts. In fact, we have something new and exciting for all kinds of diverse palates that we will be unveiling soon. We will be creating awareness about all our new launches through social and digital platforms and of course, through in-parlour and in-market activations.
What are the kind of trends and growth that you are expecting from the festive season this year?
The season with Raksha Bandhan has begun well. While it may be too early to say this, I expect it to be another strong season for us with a growth of around 20% over the same period last year.
Could you share details about Baskin Robbins’ expansion plans, especially in Tier 2 towns? What new cities can we expect to see Baskin Robbins enter in the near future, and what is the strategy behind this expansion?
You may be surprised to know that Baskin Robbins is already available in nearly 250 cities in the country. We operate over 850 stores, our nationwide presence includes apart from metro and large cities, over 200 Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. There are, of course, still areas of opportunity in many pockets and states and we aim to fulfil these gaps as we go along. We intend to add another 60-80 cities over the next 2 years to our network. The strategy is very clear. We need to take the brand to where there is potential and where there is demand.
In terms of existing markets, how does Baskin Robbins plan to strengthen its presence? Are there specific initiatives or innovations that you can highlight?
In the existing cities, and specifically in the metro cities where we already have a strong presence, Baskin Robbins has been working on a two-pronged approach. This includes adding more stores in newer catchments and also opening new stores in more established and prominent locations in the right catchments. This will give us not just more depth, but also added visibility in these cities. Additionally, we have evolved the way our parlours must look. The new format is aesthetically and functionally superior to the earlier one and allows us to highlight specific new categories like Ice Cream cakes, sundaes, etc., better. We are also experimenting with kiosks at airports and other high footfall locations.
We have evolved the way we communicate and today, boast of one of the strongest online base of followers. Our loyalty/ reward programs keep customers coming back for more. As far as products go, we have been consistently bringing in newness. So, whether it was the introduction of Ice Cream Pizzas or the launch of bite-sized Ice cream rocks, we have got them all. One of our recent introductions targeted at kids – the mermaid and unicorn sundaes – have been extremely well received.