Launched in 1999, through collaborations with well-known Indian actors, this ‘namkeen’ snack Kurkure, established in India, has tried to establish a stronger identity. Indian actor-celebrity Juhi Chawla was featured in advertising for Kurkure in 2004. Kurkure began ads in 2012 with Parineeti Chopra, Kunal Kapoor, Boman Irani, Ramya Krishnan, and Farida Jalal.
Cut to 2020, Not only has Kurkure managed to endure and negotiate twists and turns over two decades into the journey, but it has also become diverse. PepsiCo India saw a decline in beverage revenue for the fiscal ended March 2020, the data for which was recently filed, which dragged the overall revenue to Rs5.264 crore compared to Rs6.257 in the previous fiscal year. The food business was the bright side of the picture. The company claimed in its media release this month, “Revenue increased due to strong growth in [the] Kurkure portfolio, Lay’s and Doritos.”
Over the years, Kurkure, PepsiCo India’s first homegrown brand to record over Rs1,000 crore in sales a few years back, has increased in scale. Ramon Laguarta, chairman and CEO of Global Foods and Beverages Major, listed “strong single-digit growth in India” in his third-quarter earnings published early this month. Analysts estimate that the growth of PepsiCo in India is due largely to the food portfolio led by Lay’s and Kurkure.
How the marketing and advertisement journey began in 2000 was a quirky take on Indian families, when Kurkure launched the first campaign with the slogan ‘kya karein, control nahin hota (can’t control, what to do).’ While the story was based around the ‘strength’ wielded by the house’s mother-in-law, the humorous depiction made it amusing for the entire family. The brand succeeded in cracking the social code. The emphasis remained on saas-bahu banter for the next four years and Kurkure owned the plank of a brand rooted in the fun (Masti) and family time in 2004.
Subsequently, a need was felt for the brand to occupy a specific period in the day of a family. They were zeroing-in on tea-time. The concept was simple: more Indian families were becoming nuclear in the early 2000s, and the time spent together was diminishing even in joint families.
The ‘tedha hai par mera hai’ campaign with Chawla in 2008 proved to be a turning point for the brand three years later. It understood the concept of imperfection in a family and celebrated it. “With customers, the advertisement struck an emotional cord. A famous brand has become a well-loved brand,
Kurkure faced another twist in the tale in 2008, like every family drama: the plastic controversy. An existential dilemma proved to be a rumor that the snack contained plastic. Sales took a beating and customers became apprehensive. PepsiCo went into damage management mode: the company did all it could to handle the situation, from field trips to plants and fighting speculation on social media to communicating directly to customers. “The plastic dispute,” “made the company smarter and more intelligent.” The company began to talk about the ingredients that make the food.
The market leader also had to battle against genuine local competitors who were drawn into the market because of Kurkure’s huge success: between 2009 and 2012, an estimated 3,000 brands appeared. The battle was also coming from regional players with heft such as Balaji Foods, Yellow Diamond, DFM Foods, Haldiram’s, and Bikanerwala. Not to forget ITC’s Tedhe Medhe.
To fight the challengers, PepsiCo India stepped on the creativity pedal. Through regionalization and localization, they rolled out savory flavors and gave it a pan-India attraction, “says KS Narayanan, a food and beverage expert.” Though masala munch, chilli chatka, green chutney style, and puffcorn became bestsellers in North India, the South got hooked on naughty tomatoes and Hyderabadi hungama, what came next and continues even now is a battery of flavours for different parts of the world.
Kurkure as a brand has figured out their mantra which has worked out for them always. Embodying the spirit of India, Kurkure has positioned itself as ‘The Made in India Brand’ who knows their game and they know how to excel at it.