Founded by: Perfetti Van Melle
Alpenliebe is a hard candy brand launched by the company Perfetti Van Melle in Europe during the 1970s. The word literally means “Alpine love” in German language and the brand owner company was formed with the merger of two renowned confectionery brands of the world, Perfetti from Italy and Van Melle from Netherland in 2001.
The company is headquartered in Schiphol at Netherlands and is the third largest confectionery brand in the world. It has over thirty subsidiary companies, and it manufactures and supplies its wide range of products in over 159 countries all over the world.
The world-famous candy came to India in 1995 along with other popular confectioneries of the company. The Indian arm of the company was named Perfetti Van Melle India (PVMI) and its product offerings accounted for about 25% share of the rupees 3,700 Crore non-chocolate confectionery market of the country.
Alpenliebe emerged as the leading sugar-based candy brand in the Indian market and accounted for bulk of PVMI’s revenue in the country.
How it all Started
Perfetti was already an established brand by the time it launched Alpenliebe in the European market. The parent company was owned by two brothers named Ambrogio and Egidio Perfetti. They started a sweet-producing unit in Lainante, near Milan in Italy named Dolcificio Lombardo during the year 1946.
They were successful in creating a name for themselves in the country in the next two decades and subsequently decided to expand into other products like chewing gum apart from sweets and candies in the 1950s. As a part of their ever-growing repertoire of products, many popular brands came into being throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Alpenliebe being one of the prominent ones.
The Alpenliebe brand continued to grow due to its unique taste and varied flavors on offer all over the world. Perfetti Van Melle had always believed that the key to capturing the customer’s imagination was to customize the candy’s taste according to the local flavors enjoyed by them. For example, the banana-flavored Alpenliebe candy is only available in India and is not common in the other countries.
The European version of the product is sweeter and tastes different than the one in China. So, the key to success of the brand was the attention to local preferences while keeping the core product quality and texture in mind.
The Road to Success
Alpenliebe was launched in India originally in three distinct flavors – cream strawberry, rich milky caramel and chocolate. PVMI had a clear vision and experienced leadership in Sameer Suneja as the Managing Director of the company along with strategic partnerships with McCann, Oglivy Avasthi for distribution and marketing of its products.
The long term vision and professional management of the brand and its variety of product offerings customized to suit the Indian consumer’s taste made Alpenliebe the largest sugar-based confectionery in the country by the end of the first decade of the new millennium.
While the sugar confectionery market is the country is a confusing mix of a host of local manufacturers vying for a piece of the market along with big multinational companies, the vast number of potential consumers put India in a prime position for growth and development of an internationally-established brand like Alpenliebe.
So, after the initial response was hugely positive from the Indian consumers, the brand diversified with add-on products like Alpenliebe Pop, the lollipop or “sweet on a stick” and Alpenliebe Creamfills, a hard candy with a cream-filled center. Also, there were many products of the brand that were developed indigenously as per the demand and flavor preferences of the Indian consumers. The ‘Creamfills’ and ‘Mangofilz’ versions of Alpenliebe are two such examples – these flavors are created for the Indian market specifically.
When PVMI entered the confectionery market in the mid-1990s, they estimated a total market turnover of around 300 crore Rupees with little focus on quality and variety. So, the focus of the company was also to expand the total market size apart from acquiring a sizeable share of the revenues.
These multi-pronged approaches aided with successful partnerships and strong leadership resulted in Alpenliebe becoming the highest revenue earner among many brands offered by PVMI in India,along with it becoming the number one sugar confectionery brand in the country by the start of the second decade of the 2000s.
Marketing and Promotions
The candy and sugar-based confectionery market is largely based on impulse buying of consumers along with some planned buying during occasions like birthdays and festivals. During the mid-1990s, when PVMI entered the market with its initial offerings, it was dominated by regional players with few multinationals vying for a piece of the revenue.
With its previous experience of expanding in other countries, the company immediately set out to capture the huge potential market of a populous country like India.
To this end, they bought a mix of brand already operating successfully in other countries and focused on providing world-class quality products to Indian consumers all over the country. They partnered with professional marketing and distribution agencies and created a string of media campaigns with high recall value and memory-retention capacity.
They even roped in popular film personalities who retained the Indian family values to endorse their products to focus on its acceptance in the country households. The campaign was geared towards wooing Indian parents and elders, as their acceptance will pave the way for larger consumption among the minors and children.
Also, there was a lot of focus in strengthening the distribution network of its products so that it reaches almost every local grocery store in the country. PVMI had developed a multi-tiered distribution system with resellers in each category selling a product of different price points. Their individual representatives visited the shops on a weekly basis, thus a total of three visits were ensured on behalf of the brand and company.
This resulted in an automatic rise in stocking and sales of the Alpenliebe brand across India, as its products were already known for their unique tastes and popularized through focused and sustained media coverage over two decades.
To sum up, Alpenliebe has become a household name in India as a result of sincere efforts of the various partners associated with the company. The leadership of the company had the vision and innovativeness required to succeed in the highly competitive Indian market. The company rose has already crossed the 1200-Crore turnover mark in 2012 and the Alpenliebe brand is poised to gain newer heights as the market leader in the sugar confectionery category, while remaining the highest revenue-earner of the company.