Consumer connect initiatives helped us to drive brand awareness scores of Freedom Oils to 85%+ amongst housewives.
Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils, the flagship brand for Gemini Edibles and Fats India Pvt Ltd., is present in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. The company offers a range of cooking oils including Sunflower Oil, Rice bran, Ground but, Palm Oil etc., clocked a turnover of Rs 5,423 crores (USD 784 Million approx.) for the financial year 2018-19.
\Freedom Healthy Cooking is championing the cause of #Immunity begins in the Kitchen and has helped consumers know about the importance of self-cooking in the kitchen using traditional ingredients from reputed brands to build immunity & to fight COVID-19 pandemic.
The company has a state of the art infrastructure along with a robust distribution network backed by proactive and innovative marketing, digital and PR strategy with a strategic mix of ATL and BTL activations to connect with the Target Audience and grow in the extremely cluttered edible oil space.
In an exclusive chat with MediaNews4U P Chandra Shekhara Reddy, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils, speaks on the recent campaigns launched by the company along with the Safety Measures initiated by the company in its workplace and production Plants under post-Covid-19 scenario and his future plans for the Brands.
What is the Objective of the #Immunity begins in the Kitchen Campaign by Freedom Healthy Cooking Oil?
As we all are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which till date has no defined cure or vaccine. According to experts, wearing a mask, frequent sanitization, social distancing and boosting your immunity are the only ways to deal with COVID-19.
Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils campaign #ImmunitybeginsintheKitchen helps in bringing awareness on improving the immunity and create awareness to the use of these ingredients present in every Indian Kitchen while cooking daily. This awareness can help boost immunity by consciously using the ingredients like ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon etc in our daily cooking.
Today’s consumers are growing conscious on health issues related to usage of cooking Oil, How do you structure your communication strategy in this scenario?
Consumers are growing health-conscious, more concerned about the health impact of all the ingredients that are used for cooking. Edible oil forms an essential part of the food being cooked.
‘Freedom’ has always focused on bringing for the customers edible oils which are healthy, and cook tasty food. Freedom Refined Sunflower oil is fortified with essential vitamins A, D &E. It is not sticky, non-greasy, with a balanced HDL/LDL profile making it healthy for the heart. The Oil helps you cook more in less oil, the same has been communicated in our messaging over a period of time using innovative communication.
Likewise, Freedom Rice Bran Oil has 10,000 ppm of Oryzanol, highest in any brand of RBO and the same has been the focus of our communication over a period of time. For the brands of Mustard Oil, Groundnut Oil we have communication focusing on Taste and health due to the niche usage of these oils.
To deliver the message, we use a mix of mediums. We communicated the health benefits and advice on the consumption of oils through a series of articles featuring nutritionists, Chef’s etc. through platforms like TV advertisements & programs, news articles, advertorials, facebook, Instagram and YouTube posts. We have also associated with Running and sporting events like Freedom Hyderabad 10K Run, Freedom Ride, HYSEA Sports tournament to re-enforce the association with health and Freedom Healthy cooking oils.
What is the share of Gemini Edibles and Fats brands in the respective markets you operate?
Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils was launched in April 2010 in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and now emerged as a leading brand of Sunflower oil, Rice Bran Oil, Mustard Oil & Groundnut Oil.
Freedom Healthy Cooking Oils currently ranks No. 1 by market share in the Sunflower Oil category in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh & Odisha with a market share of 29.5% in Telangana State and 59.3% in Andhra Pradesh & 48.3% in Odisha (Source: Neilson Q2 – 2020).
Freedom is today the largest importer of Sunflower Oil in India. They are also a preferred supplier to reputed industrial consumers primarily in the Southern, Central and Western regions of India.
How was your sales during the Covid-19 period, did you see any uptick in consumption of Edible Oil due to increase in Home Kitchen usage…?
Covid-19 lockdown has changed the way we live, cook and eat food. During the lockdown and even now most of the F&B outlets are not functioning or functioning keeping in view the social distancing norms. This has made people cook at home. We at Freedom Healthy Cooking oils have witnessed an increased demand for the Sunflower oil and the other variants during the lockdown and even now.
Immediately after the lockdown was announced, we were not able to service the spurt in demand. However, within a few days, we have streamlined the operations to ensure we provide the required stocks of Freedom Oils for our customers.
GEF India primarily caters to 3 categories: Hotels / Institutions followed by Industry (bakery, packaged fast-food and snacks) and Home segment.
Hotels / Institutions, Weddings, and Events were on a standstill due to COVID-19 lockdown resulting in a 50% reduction in demand for the Palm oil. The demand for the Industrial segment was more or less maintained. However, there was a 10-15% increase in the demand for Sunflower Oil which is primarily consumed in households, particularly in AP, Telangana, Karnataka & Odisha thereby helping us maintain our growth.
What are your choice of Media mix in your brand communication to reach your Target audience, which is your most preferred Media Vehicles?
In the initial years of our journey, we focused on creating awareness for the brand through an advertising campaign with the effective selection of Electronic media with a careful selection of news and GEC channels. We have effectively built an association of cooking with Freedomhealthy cooking oils through a number of consumer connect initiatives in the markets we operate in. This helped increase brand communication &awareness scores to 85%+ for Freedom amongst housewives (TA). We further intensified the campaign with a selection of brand activation and direct consumer connect activities in association with leading publications/radio stations across the geographies of our operation to conduct series of cookery workshops/cooking contests supported by an intensive PR campaign.
Over the last few years, we have cautiously added the Social & Digital media into our media mix, for better customer engagement and conversations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted special series FreedomFoodShala, a Facebook live – back to a basics cookery class. The series had many sessions during the lockdown. The initiative helped provide a platform for all the beginners to learn day to day Indian Cuisine from the renowned Chef along with useful tips for the kitchen to help the customers during the lockdown and help them cook themselves. To further improve our consumer, connect we also introduced #FreedomCelebrityKitchen an initiative where popular TV actors cooked their favourite dishes and the same was posted on our social media handles. We effectively used PR to leverage the out-reach of these campaigns.
For the Rural markets, we initiated a unique ‘Freedom AarogyaRath Yatra’ to spread awareness about the benefits of Sunflower Oil in the interiors of the country. We ensured effective product sampling at such consumer connect initiatives to encourage brand trials and adoption. All such initiatives were preceded by an intensive campaign for brand distribution and visibility at the POP outlets. A cohesive ATL, BTL campaign along with a robust distribution helped grow the brand in the selected markets.
Global market are moving their budgets from traditional media to digital media, Do you look forward to increase your Digital Media spend in future?
Digital Marketing is essential to reach out and engage with the audience today, as India and global markets are rapidly adopting digital media and using it increasingly to stay connected. Being a vibrant player in the segment, Freedom pioneered the adoption of Social Media Marketing, and Digital Advertising as a new medium to reach out and engage with the target audience.
We are spending with specially conjured creative content majorly on Google Apps, YouTube, Face book, Instagram & other platforms as well. This year we have increased our budget and also started with the OTT (Over the Top) Platforms like Zee5 & Hotstar. Freedom has been communicating to its target audience through the different platforms with the different narratives over the last many years by segregating the customers through their Lifestyle needs, culture and on the interpretation of Freedom to Choose.
The use of Social media platforms was even more during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond.
What is your expansion plans for Freedom and other brands of Gemini Edibles?
GEF India is presently operating on 100% capacity utilization. We have recently commissioned our new plant in Kakinada which is built over 12 acres. It is the largest private sector investment in Kakinada. The plant is designed and assembled by deft professionals using superlative quality components and advanced engineering concepts like the use of robotics, along with an integrated packaging setup.
The manufacturing unit has a capacity of 1200 MT per day refining of Sunflower Oil and Palm Oil. This takes our total installed capacity to 2350 MT per day. The facility will help us support the increased demand for Freedom, streamline the distribution.