Engro Foods: The Good, The Not So Bad, and The Ugly!

Engro Foods’ (EFL) rise over the last ten years has been admirable.  Their knack for continuously bringing something different to the market – even if the categories aren’t new – is laudable.

This post will look at their product innovations of sort from the 4Ps perspective.  No, I will not be simply stating Engro Foods first launched this, then this, you can find their goods at these stores blah blah. Not here to relay common knowledge!

Rather, as the title suggests, it’ll be some opinions on what has been the good, the not so bad, and the ugly of their efforts from a 4Ps perspective.  Don’t worry, the 4Ps don’t fall under each head so hopefully this won’t be too long except for when I go in my rant-like mode when discussing the ‘ugly’!  If you’re only looking for critique then you can skip the good part 😉

The Good

Product, product, product!  And price, and place 😉

Okay, so EFL hasn’t brought anything new to the table when it comes to milk or cream or tea whitening.  However, Olper’s Lassi?  Great initiative!  They picked up on a popular dairy drink in our country and have made it easily available.10489672_727262357296940_780193221321630005_n

How much more convenient is it to visit a store rather than a milk shop?  How many times does one consider buying lassi at a milk shop?  I believe it would be safe to assume that milk shops are visited for buying milk, maybe eggs, maybe some bread, and maybe some yogurt.  Lassi, well, if I have a few minutes to spare and have a friend, then perhaps a glass of lassi.  Most restaurants don’t serve lassi either, though some do arrange it from nearby milk shops if there are any.

I’m guessing the trend may be different in Punjab?  Only Punjabi readers can verify that for me.

So, the first tick mark, for me, is bringing lassi to the shelves.  The second tick mark is the range.  Both sweet and salty are available – catering to different tastes – plus mango and strawberry.

The price, I have no idea how much it cost me but I don’t remember gawking at the man at the check-out counter when he told me my total bill so it’s definitely light on the pocket.

Moving on to their ice cream brand Omoré – a name I’m yet to figure out.  Anyway, I believe Omoré was the first to bring the strawberry cheesecake cone to the country?  Or was it Igloo?  Either way, for both companies, the product didn’t fly.  I’ll get to that later.  However, they have come up with some different flavors and offerings for all age groups:

  • 425352_10151445544162078_1942347030_nThe Monkey Peel – albeit copied from another market apparently
  • Tom & Jerry lollies – genius collaboration!  So simple, and potentially very effective
  • Pina Colada cones – who would have thought?
  • Chocolate Orange cones – McDonald’s has a chocolate orange pie so such a combination is not new in the market even if it isn’t established
  • The Peanut Butter Choc Bar type thing – boom!
  • Vanilla and Hazelnut Choc Bar type thing

Compared to their competitors, it’s a lot more than what any of them have been doing.

Despite all this being good, I can’t help but wonder if these ventures, so to speak, have helped solidify a single perception about Omoré in the consumer’s mind?  In fact, I also wonder what position they’re trying to assume for their brand?

Coming back, a common problem in Pakistan is that brands usually either set themselves in the right direction in terms of ideas or communications but then fail to deliver in terms of experience.  Is that the case with Olper’s Lassi and Omoré’s innovations?

The Not So Bad

There’s your answer.

I tried most of their products before I set about writing this so I could form a better perspective i.e. not just all praise.

Olper’s Lassi was my first try – I opted for sweet because I don’t like salty, and the mango flavor.  Both were decent.  However, this is where a question of expectations also comes in.  What do the consumers expect?

I expected a slightly thicker drink, I don’t know why really, lassi available at milk shops or restaurants isn’t really THAT thick.  Taste-wise it was fine though, it tastes like lassi though the sweet flavor may be a little too sweet so if anyone is health conscious they may avoid it in the future.lassi

What this concept of packaged lassi takes away, though, is the whole experience of drinking from this big glass or those big cone-shaped steel glasses in Lahore.  Throw in the ice, the froth and/or balai and it’s a whole different experience.  It’s a lot more enjoyable.  I’ll elaborate on this point a little later.

Moving onto the ice cream, I loved the Monkey Peel – it was fun to eat, tasted good, great banana flavor came through.

I can’t say the same about the others.  Haven’t tried the Tom & Jerry range because it doesn’t appeal to me.  However, the Pina Colada just did not taste like a pina colada – is that asking for too much?  Granted, the price is quite economical; but, if you’re going to make an ice cream of a popular drink [read: popular among a niche], it SHOULD bloody taste like it!

The Orange & Chocolate has more of the latter than the former, wouldn’t have it again.

The Peanut Butter Extravaganza (I just looked up the actual name right now) is a little anti-climatic.  The thought of a chocolate-vanilla-peanut butter combo gets the imagination running wild!  Again, although relatively premium priced [matched with Magnum], the taste does not deliver.  There’s more of a peanut taste rather than peanut butter.  I haven’t tried the Vanilla & Hazelnut but I’m not inclined to do so because of the worry, based on the peanut butter experience, that the product won’t deliver.

So, the products haven’t quite delivered but that hasn’t irked me entirely.  What has irked me a significant amount are the communications for these products.

The Ugly

Where do I begin?

Usually, in Pakistan, we see advertisements filled with grandiose for products which are anything but.  In EFL’s case, we see sort of the opposite – better products with mediocre communications.

I’ll start with Olper’s Lassi.  This was their advert:

Desi gulp, trendy ghoont?!  You have to f**kin kidding me!

It’s obvious they’ve opted to go for a niche within a niche within a niche – corporate folk -> young corporate folk -> young corporate folk who dare to set the trend at their corporations.


My guess is as good as yours and I don’t want my guess to revolve around purchasing power and repeat purchases.

Bring out the desi in you?  That’s another niche added to the niche within a niche within a niche – this niche is SO pretentious and image conscious that being seen as desi does not tickle their fancy.  I’m not saying these people don’t exist, they certainly do, just very few in number.

Why would you narrow your target audience so much for what is potentially a very popular product?  Who and what was their research based around and what on earth did it tell them which led to the selection of this communication strategy?!

There is so much to lassi and if I had a say, I’d want to bank on the experience that lassi delivers, especially the glasses mentioned earlier.  Maybe that would be part of a short term tactic like a consumer promotion; but, overall, lassi is a drink that can appeal to so many and EFL has made it easily accessible making consumption convenient – yet, they didn’t bank on any of that in their communication.

Before I move onto Omoré, who the f**k uses the word gulp?!  I also hate the use of words like happiness and trendy by brands in their communication; they’re basically trying to shove an ideal down your throat – mate, let the consumer decide, don’t claim something highly debatable in your communication.

Moving onto Omoré, watch this first, just watch it:

I would love to see the research that says eating this food transports me to here.

Please explain!

Please explain!

I would also love to hear the logic behind linking orange-chocolate to a disco.  The link  between coconuts and island still makes sense.

To be honest, I never knew eating something actually takes us places.  To me, food has always been about taste; and, aroma at the most.  Now, never mind the fact that most consumers have never been to an island so the chances of associating coconuts with an island are quite likely to be dim; I’ve been to a friggin’ island and I wouldn’t associate a coconut based product to a bloody island!

Why?!  Why does everything have to be aspiration?  Let’s cover as many layers of the Brand Value Pyramid in one communication.

Why?  Why not just stick to the functional aspects that food products bring to you?  How many times have you consumed a food item because it takes you to a place?  Food is something so basic, people drool over images of burgers, pizzas, desserts because that’s all is required.  You know what they most probably imagine when they see those images?

No, not a cattle farm, not Italy, not some exotic island – they imagine the taste.  Any research to confirm this?  Nope.  I’d be very surprised if I’m wrong though.

Moving onto the latest that is the Peanut Butter Extravaganza and Vanilla & Hazelnut.11880355_10153052327057078_2736221979792785086_n

When I first saw the billboard I thought ‘woah, peanut butter?!  Must try!’

I did NOT think ‘wow, that is my idea of a manly man, that’s how I want to be, and if he eats such flavors then so will I’.

Nor did I think ‘eating a peanut butter flavor choc bar is unconventional and a bit daring’.

I certainly did think ‘okay so the apparently manly man likes flowers, showing he has a soft side, and that’s related to peanut butter…how?’

I was just excited that this is in the market because I like peanut butter.

11888000_10153077829142078_5412948313761584736_nWhen the second communication came out I also wondered how many people in this country know what metal is in music terms?  Of course not everyone is the target audience; but, even within the broader target audience.

But I can imagine the brand manager or marketing manager giving an interview about this communication strategy:

Well we were bringing in two fantastic new flavors that have never been in the market.  They also fell in the premium range.  The flavors were different, unconventional and we wanted to bring that attitude out.  A choc bar isn’t a choc bar anymore.  The rules have been broken through these products.

Well the characters used and what they say were in line with that idea as well – they were breaking the stereotypes that are associated with them.

So it all comes together to give this message which has punch, impact, and it’s really picked up and done well.

Again, they have targeted a niche within a niche within niche; but, it may appeal to more than that.  It doesn’t help that the man or girl dominate the image and one has to squint a little to see what on earth is being advertised.  I just don’t get how this is supposed to attract someone to try the new products.

I’ll just end this rant here now with this image and ask you to observe the simplicity and appeal of it:


Need I say anything?

Wrapping it Up

I’ll be glad if these innovations stick around and do well for EFL.  I wouldn’t be surprised either because they aren’t terrible products and are definitely value for money.

However, this is one of those cases where the product complemented with a solid media plan will drive the sales.  The communication, in my humble opinion, does very little to generate demand or trial.

Sometimes simplicity is the way to go and I feel, considering the products launched were based on popularity of flavor combinations, the communications should have brought those out more.

Image Sources:

  1. Olper’s Lassi Facebook Page
  2. Omore Facebook Page
  3. http://www.rewaj.pk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/lassi.jpg
  4. Reese’s Facebook Page

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