Healthy biscuits have become a battleground for brands as they compete for the increasing number of consumers seeking health benefits from their favourite snack. However, to win in this category, brands should focus on four attractive opportunities for product innovation brought about by customers’ increasingly fragmented health needs and changing consumer behaviour.
In customer research that we conducted for a leading UK health biscuit brand, 53 percent of respondents revealed they consume biscuits on a daily basis, while a further 30 percent said they eat them at least several times a week. With such a large number of Indians consuming biscuits on a regular basis, the category can play an important role in a healthy diet.
Innovating healthier growth in India’s biscuit market
Indian biscuit brands have gradually introduced a range of healthier options over the years to meet customers' rising health awareness. Britannia’s Marie Gold was the original brand to position itself in the healthier biscuit space by offering a lighter alternative to glucose biscuits. However, as consumers have become more health-conscious, they are getting more discerning about the real health quotient and more demanding about the type of benefits they expect from a healthy biscuit.
The industry’s first major response to this was to promote higher fibre intake with the introduction of digestive biscuits. This addressed concerns regarding digestive health as well as encouraging consumers to consider their cholesterol and blood sugar. The next stage of product development was around multi and wholegrain as rising worries over cardiovascular diseases came to the fore. More recently, oat biscuits have become a key area of product development with an awareness of the grain’s benefits being fuelled by the growing popularity of breakfast oats.
While Britannia has been the pioneer in health biscuits in India, increasing competition from international players like McVities and Unibic, as well as smaller niche players like Gaia has led to many product innovations quickly becoming generic across the category. To avoid being easily imitated or falling into a ‘me too’ strategy, players in the Indian health biscuit market need to understand and innovate around more complex health needs and new consumption occasions.