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When Anuradha Narasimhan talks of ‘Tiger moms’, she’s referring to the primary buyer of Britannia’s Tiger glucose biscuits, a mother who cares for her child’s health. And her ‘cheerleader homemaker’ is a Vita Marie Gold consumer who celebrates teatime moments with other women.
As category director-health and wellness at Britannia Industries, 42-year-old Narasimhan’s monikers serve as a ready reckoner for her 14-member team to distinguish the buyer of each brand and to keep their eye on the ball-the eat healthy, think better credo.
“We are sitting on something that is only going to grow,” says the IIT-Mumbai graduate, who is driving several key bets for the country’s second-largest biscuit maker in the wellness space. “We have been ahead of the curve.”
Britannia, one of the first Indian food companies to adopt the health plank, knocked off harmful trans fats from its biscuits and fortified more than half its portfolio with micro-nutrients such as iron and calcium.
Bakery products account for close to 90% of its 4,200-crore revenues. Narasimhan controls half this contribution and has helped build up the kitty launching six products since she joined the company some four years ago.
Britannia took the unconventional route a few years ago by introducing functional, wellness cookies aimed at the urban adult.
With brand NutriChoice, Narasimhan extended this play into five-grain cookies, nature-spice cracker and diabetes-friendly alternatives.
NutriChoice is not catering to a niche, she says. “It’s the future face of Britannia,” Narasimhan, says referring to the brand size and consumer franchise, without divulging figures.
Yet the category battles perception that eating healthy is costly and not as tasty. Britannia attempted to stem this by bundling cookies with snack boxes, prompting consumers to buy into the extra value and then discover the taste.
“If we can slip health in without her even noticing it, nothing like it,” says Narasimhan, who earlier worked for Hindustan Unilever.
Not one to be content with only biscuits representing Britannia in the child’s snack box, Narasimhan positioned cakes as a wholesome alternative by communicating that cakes are made of milk, egg and fruit and needn’t always be creamy. It worked, as cakes grew twice as fast as the company in 18 months. Rusks are its next bet in the segment.
Rivals are taking note. “In the past there has been no concerted effort on Britannia’s part to target wellness, but since 3-4 months there seems to be activity picking up with diabetic-friendly biscuits,” says Nikhil Sen, MD of Unibic Biscuits India, an arm of Australian premium cookie maker Unibic.
Perhaps Narasimhan’s biggest critic is her 13-year-old son who considers the delight and lifestyle category including Good Day, Pure Magic and Bourbon biscuits and baked snack Time Pass more appetising. It’s probably because she starts work early, is back in time to monitor his homework, catch up on a 20-minute walk and an hour’s work before sleep. “I’m a pit stop person,” she says, referring to how she tries to maximise her time with frequent breaks including 3-4 calls to friends.
After joining Britannia, Narasimhan crystallised the company’s focus into the Britannia Nutrition Foundation, which tackles malnutrition through partnerships with the likes of Global Alliance for Improved Distribution and the Naandi Foundation.
Narasimhan says that most people know what food they should stay away from, but not what they should add to their diet. “I know the stuff, thanks to my job. Do I do all of it? No. I wish I weighed 15 kilos less,” she says.
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