Amul Vs. all of India’s ‘butter cookies’ – a consumer’s perspective

I wrote earlier about Amul’s foray into the biscuits segment from the marketing and communications perspective.

This post is from the perspective of a normal consumer/user.

After trying at a lot of nearby shops and online stores (out of stock in my regular – BigBasket), I finally managed to get the 4 new Amul Cookies – Butter Cookies, Chocolate Cookies, Nuts & Raisin Cookies and Coconut Cookies.

And now I fully understand why Amul went for that bazooka of a launch idea, taking on the established leaders of the ‘butter’ biscuits. That Butter Cookie is so completely unlike anything Britannia, Parle, ITC, Priya Gold etc. have offered Indian consumers.

In fact, the closest (that I know of, available off-the-shelf in India), that comes in terms of taste is Express Foods’ brand of cookies called Domino’s. This is not a very easily available brand, but I have tried their entire range and they have 2 butter cookie products – Pure Butter Cookies and Pure Butter Shortbread Biscuits.

Digression: They also have Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies (yes, double chocolate!) and Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies. All these are stunningly tasty!

Digression ends.

If you see the ingredients of Domino’s Pure Butter Cookies and Pure Butter Shortbread Biscuits, the story is very similar to Amul’s Butter Cookies range.

Amul Butter Cookies – 25% butter
Express Foods’ Domino’s Pure Butter Cookies – 20% butter
Express Foods’ Domino’s Pure Butter Shortbread Biscuits – 29% butter

And this butter quantity shows in taste very, very obviously. The flavor, texture, and taste are fantastic! It literally melts in the mouth and is vastly superior, taste-wise, to Britannia GoodDay or ITC’s Mom’s Magic (or any of the other now-generic butter biscuits/cookies. Except Express Foods’ Domino’s Pure Butter Cookies and Pure Butter Shortbread Biscuits. They effortlessly outdo Amul’s Butter Cookies.

Understandably, Amul labels all 4 as ‘premium’, even though the high butter content is restricted to Chocolate Cookies (23% butter) and Butter Cookies (25% butter) alone. There is no butter mentioned in the ingredients for the other 2 – Nuts & Raisin Cookies and Coconut Cookies, yet they get the premium tag by nature of them being associated with the other 2. Of the 4 variants, I loved the butter cookies and chocolate cookies – the other 2 were less interesting. The chocolate cookies also had (feeling of) lesser sugar, unlike Domino’s chocolate chip cookies that are super tasty, but also super sweet.

To sell these ‘premium’ flavors and unique taste that is fairly new in this price range within this segment in India, Amul definitely needed something utterly disruptive. Merely talking about these being ‘better’ or ‘premium’ or ‘superior’ would not cut it. They need to be positioned as far, far better in comparison to something and make consumers first question their current choices, convincingly. Amul needed a target to play against and Britannia GoodDay became that unwitting target in this war by virtue of being the largest and most popular brand. This is extremely astute and smart marketing, but solidly on the back of a deserving product. Amul knew it has a winner and placed the marketing bets accordingly, going after the leader.

I won’t be surprised if Britannia, or Parle or ITC launch ‘premium’ butter cookies with more % of butter within the next 12-24 months. Chances are, this may come from Parle or ITC, instead of Britannia, which has taken the mantle of fighting back with the rightful plank – health, even though their own biscuit is not really the paradigm of health. Parle and ITC have not been explicitly identified in Amul’s campaign that shows as rival cookie that looks oh-so-similar to GoodDay. So, it’s easier for them look beyond this war and do what’s right for business.

Amul has clearly shown that there can be a ‘better’ butter cookie, and at the price points that consumers are used to. It’d be foolish for others not to replicate and use this plank created by Amul.

The larger question is the sugar content of all these cookies. There’s a strong and steady movement towards awareness of sugar in our packaged foods, but it still hasn’t become big enough to matter to most of these brands.