Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) will be hoping that its new ice cream brand `Epic’ leaves a lingering taste among ice cream lovers when Hindustan Unilever (HUL) officially launches its `Magnum’ brand in the national capital. This marks the start of yet another year of battle among ice cream makers in Delhi, one of the top markets for the product in the country. While HUL has organised a bigbang launch event with actor Kareena Kapoor, GCMMF, according to executives aware of the company’s strategy, is banking on the first mover advantage. Although media invites sent out by HUL said the event was to announce the launch of Magnum ice cream in Delhi on February 18, a spokesperson for the company said in response to an email query, “We wish to clarify that Magnum has already been launched in Delhi and we will be continuing to strengthen our footprint going forward, backed by strong consumer activation.“ Executives aware of GCMMF’s strategy said Amul advanced the launch of Epic to get an edge over Magnum. RS Sodhi, managing director of GCMMF, said, “We are responding to consumer preferences for premium ice cream... as category leader, we need to be present in all segments.“ Both brands claim Belgian chocolate is a key ingredient of their premium-segment ice cream. While Magnum is priced at `85 a bar, Amul’s Epic will is being made available at `35 and `40. “Similar products sold by certain ice cream or frozen dessert brands are priced significantly higher than Epic; we are selling the same at competitive prices,“ Sodhi added.Magnum, the world’s biggest stick icecream brand, which contributes close to 2% ofthe total revenues of Unilever, made its India debut in Chennai two years ago, and was laterextended to Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangaloreand Pune.“This is quite like a cola war... this time the so called battle is being fought on sticks (ice creamsticks). But it adds up to upping the ante ofcategory awareness and infusing share of spacenot only among consumers but also at the retaillevel,“ said Harish Bijoor, promoter of marketingconsultancy firm Harish Bijoor Consults.Globally, Magnum is represented by leading actressesincluding Eva Mendes, Eva Longoria and Liv Tyler, and Unilever haspositioned the brand as a `royal’. It is one of the very few brands HUL imports and sells in the country. Premium brands of ice cream are fast gaining popularity in India, with firms like HUL, Amul, Mother Dairy, DevyaniInternational (selling under brand Cream Bell) and Vadilal fuellingconsumer demand with high-margin and high-priced products.The country’s organised ice cream segment is estimatedat over `2,000 crore, with Amul claiming an over 40% share ofthe market. GCMMF’s other summer plans include introducing sugarfree ice creams and yogurts in cones. Magnum is a core brand for HUL’s still small but growing foods business in India. (Source: The Economic Times, Mumbai, February 18, 2015)
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