Britannia Industries Limited (BIL) is an Indian food-products corporation. It was established in Kolkata in 1892 with an investment of just Rs. 295. The total revenue of this company was reported to be Rs. 10,672.97 crore in 2019. It took more than one drastic makeover for this company to reach the level it is at today. Interestingly, it is India’s oldest existing company and it is now a part of the Wadia Group headed by Nusli Wadia. This case study is about Britannia’s drastic makeover, which boosted this massive success.
The initial phase and timeline
Established in 1892 in Kolkata, a group of British businessmen initially run Britannia Industries Limited. They made Biscuits in a small house in central Kolkata. But soon after, Gupta Brothers acquired the company. On 21st March, they incorporated the Company as a Public Limited Company under the Indian Companies Act, VII of 1913. Back then, BIL manufactured bakery and soybean products and exported cashew kernels and seafood products.
The company saw some hot and cold situations during World War II. But in 1952, they stepped up and installed an automatic plant first in Kolkata and then in Mumbai. This development led to the production of high quality and wrapped bread which was first made in Delhi. Bourbon biscuits came to India in 1955, followed by the delicious Britannia cake in 1963. But what followed this phase is what made the company a ‘Food Giant’ in India in
Britannia’s makeover in the 1990s
“Our markets are poised for exciting times. As a successful organization, we must not only keep pace with consumer expectations but also anticipate them. Our new identity is to lay the base to project our future as a successful ‘food’ company, a company that provides high quality and tasty, yet healthy foods and beverages” These were the words of Nusli Wadia, Chairman of Britannia Industries Limited back then.
Most of the firms make radical changes in their management and products only when it becomes absolutely necessary. But this has never the credo of Britannia Industries Limited. Around 1997, the company was doing well in terms of profit. BIL had a 16% growth rate for sales. But when corrected for inflation, it reduced to 8%. And this is what concerned them which led to Britannia’s massive makeover.
The sudden turn
When BIL’s business was going well, they changed their course and reinvented their company instead of focusing on what they already managed to establish. They built a new corporate identity, with a brand new and colorful logo along with a new baseline- ‘Eat Healthy, Think better.’ Also, from being a manufacturer of baked goods, they diversified and expanded their product range to comprehensive foods and beverages along with dairy products like cheese.
By venturing into new areas, BIL was doing something radical which many said was a compulsion, in order to survive. They reasoned that the 8% growth rate of sales, though good enough by the standards of a mature market, was not up to the mark for a growing market like India, especially in the food segment.
Some of the analysts stated that this was a step, with the aim of cutting out the threat of any potential competition. Some others felt that this was a much-needed step as the unbranded segment was controlling a large chunk of these products in India.
Britannia’s makeover move in the late 2000s
After going with the baseline of “Eat Healthy, Think Better,” BIL switched to another baseline which addressed the larger slice of India’s evolving food sector. “Zindagi mein Life,”
translated literally from Hindi was the new slogan means “adding life to life” — or, as managing director Vinita Bali puts it, “adding enjoyable vitality to life.”
He also stated that “Over the past few years, as we looked at what we stand for and what we could stand for, we felt that if our promise to consumers is to make products that are not just enjoyable but also good for them, then we need to make that promise come alive through our products.”
And they kept this promise by the decision to remove 8,500 tons of trans fat from their biscuits and making them completely trans fat-free. Although there was no regulatory compulsion to do so, they still undertook this step due to health concerns. They also fortified many of their products with vitamins and micronutrients. Currently, over 50% of its products are fortified. Back then, Britannia Industries Limited was India’s first company to take these steps for the customers’ health sake.
Britannia also took various initiatives, for community health, and started a meal-service for school children. The fortified biscuits were mainly targeted towards them, as well. Apart from these, they also delivered these biscuits at the United Nations World Food Program, and run various health-camps, to raise awareness. Britannia has a Nutrition Foundation, that targets reduction in malnutrition and iron-deficiency, which is the basic motto of these fortified biscuits.
The bottom line
As observed previously, Britannia Industries Limited did not take any radical step under regulatory compulsions. Instead, they focused on delivering more and more value to their customers and living up to their baseline.
Furthermore, the positioning of the brand is both enjoyable and healthy. They do not claim their products to be ‘health foods’ but rather, they focus on making them enjoyable in the healthiest way possible.
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Skilled in content writing and management and Content Manager at Mindgrad. A Freelance Writer pursuing Btech in Food Technology and Management