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BW Businessworld

The Smile Spreading Business

Perfetti’s careful approach allowed it to resume marketing activities mid- year, and be on television for its product launches.

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During the lockdown, the confectionary business was amid the least active in the FMCG category in India. The impact was so severe that a company like Perfetti Van Melle, which is home to household brands such as Centre Fresh and Alpenliebe, had to bring its advertising spends down to zero in the April-June quarter. While drastic, this was considered a prudent move, as sales figures had dropped to 40 per cent in April for the company.

Brand of Hope

However, in its own words Perfetti is a brand of hope. It took this time to not only revisit what its brands mean for consumers in their daily life but also how it could better leverage the likes of digital media to engage its consumers. All this was topped by its message, centred around ‘optimism’ and ‘resilience’. The strategy must have been in the right direction, because by September 2020, Perfetti had clocked 80 per cent of its pre-Covid sales numbers.

Reflecting on the category’s performance, Rohit Kapoor, Director - Marketing (India), Perfetti Van Melle observes, “From where we started last year in Covid to now, things have really improved. We saw consumers returning on the back of the meaningful work we are trying to do, in building brand connections. While this has been true for both candy and gum, candy is seeing more traction. One reason for this is that candy is consumed more at home, and hence the recovery is faster. The pace for gums has been comparatively slower.”

Aggressive Marketing

Perfetti’s careful approach allowed it to resume marketing activities mid- year, and be on television for its product launches. The brand became aggressive on ecommerce platforms, tying up with pure-play brands such as Amazon and category-focused platforms including BigBasket and Milkbasket.

Very importantly, at this time, the confectionary maker closely assessed how each of its brands could play a more meaningful role in its consumer’s life. Center Fresh, for example, stayed with its proposition of fresh breath confidence that does not change with time. This was articulated in its campaign ‘Stay Fresh Behind the Mask’. Center Fruit on the other hand was about mood transformation, which could be considered another good cause during pandemic.

In August 2020, Perfetti launched its film ‘Spreading Smiles Since 1994’ that essentially was all about marketing its brand of ‘hope’.

Spreading Hope

“We wanted to leave viewers with a simple message of hope, which is if we can find our smile, we can find our way through this tough period. And like the girl in this film, who returns to her usual joyful state, we believe the world will also find its laughter once again,” remarked Kapoor.

At the BW Top 50 Marketers 2021 awards ceremony, Kapoor commented, “I am honoured and inspired to receive this recognition, and I will dedicate it to my team. They are deserving for the kind of work they did in a very tough year. Also, credit goes to our CEO for having the faith and giving the freedom to pursue our initiatives and ideas.”