Company Name – Center Fresh
Founder – Perfetti Van Melle
Owned by the leading Italian confectionary company Perfetti Van Melle, Center Fresh is India’s leading chewing gum brand. With the famous tagline “Zubaan ke rakhe lagaam”, Center Fresh is one of the successful brands by Perfetti and has helped it to rank 3rd after Cadbury and Mars in confectionary category.
As the Managing Director of Perfetti Van Melle in India, Rajesh Ramakrishnan has taken up the responsibility of Indian market in 2018 from Ramesh Jayaram who now operates in another section in the same company.
How It All Started
Founded in 1946 by Egidio and Ambrogio Perfetti, the company named after their surname had acquired Van Mella (which was founded in 1841 by Izaak van Mella) in January of 2001. Since the starting days, Perfetti Group had to face challenge from both Cadbury and Mars but it was in India, except from Italy –its home country, where its market share was more that the two competitors.
Center Fresh was gradually spreading its subsidiaries in India after being introduced in 1994 along with the other two brands namely Big Babol and Alpenliebe. Under the conglomerate of Perfetti, the PVMI has launched a number of candies, gums and chocolates among which Center Fresh has been ruling the market since 1994.
Right after being launched to Indian confectionary market in 1994, Center Fresh was a quick hit among the youngsters, school kids and adults with its liquid filled mint flavored chewing gum. As one of the most trusted gum brand without any controversy regarding side effects, Center Fresh is consumed by millions of Indians daily. As the Brand Equity survey in 2012, Center Fresh had acquired sixth position among confectionary category and 88th position among all brands operating in India which speaks on behalf of its steady and successful launching.
Various television commercials soon lined up to reach out to larger consumer base and the advertisements were directed towards the fact that Center Fresh gum is so refreshing that people would prefer to keep tab on their mouth to enjoy the taste.
Center Fresh’s marketing strategy and reasons behind its success
- No matter whether the sugar prices hike or the petroleum based packages get slight costlier, the manufacturer of Center Fresh could absorb it all. While its cost was 1.50 INR in 1994 during launch, in the following year, the price reduced to 1 INR and since then no change in its price has been made.
- As per the brand’s innovative advertisement program, Perfetti has maintained around 12-13% sale revenue earned from digital advertising as well as brand promotion on sports matches, shows etc. In 1996, Center Fresh created a milestone in its marketing strategy by associating itself in the World Cup of Cricket.
- In Indian market where a confectionary brand had evitable mortality rate, Center Fresh with its surprisingly low cost as 1 INR had been able to survive intense competition. Besides, after its launch, various supermarkets started stocking these gums in bulk to hand one or two in case there was short of change, thereby, making people engaged with the brand.
- Instead on promoting the most obvious attribute of the product i.e. its freshness factor, the company brainstormed on the factor that will work as unique and best for the product. While emphasizing on the indirect benefits like keeping mouth shut when not required, Center Fresh tries to make the advertisings more quirky and engaging.
Center Fresh’s Campaigns
During the launch in 1994, Center Fresh had an international campaign where a man was shown rafting downstream and stumbling upon a fall giving a fresh vibe while the signature English jingle played in the background. In next scene, the Center Fresh gum was shown to be split in half and inside it contained the “fall of freshness”.
As the cost of 1.50 was quite higher than other brands selling gums, the campaign proved to be helpful for a few months and then the sale went down. The marketing head of the company in the nick of time, took charge and reduced the price of this “pillow-packed foreign rand” by 50 paisa which soon increased sale significantly.
The best break for Perfetti Group was when Center Fresh was selected for campaigning for the 1996 Cricket World Cup where it being the official and promotional chewing gum for the sportspersons and officials, created a massive hike in sales. Cricketers were and still are often seen chewing gums on field and Center Fresh made perfect utilization of this campaign. With cricketers seen to chew this product, the general mass too became inclined to this product. As a promotional campaign, Center Fresh chewing gum was seen on various hoardings, billboards, television commercials and packaging. During match days, the free samples of this gum were also distributed outside stadium.
In 2001, Center Fresh started a new advertising campaign for Center Shock under the same umbrella so that the new product remains associated with Center Fresh. In the same tactics, Air Action Center Fresh was advertised with a television commercial that featured a lean man swinging a fat girl.
Center Fresh also experimented with its coca-cola flavor instead of the conventional mint flavor and it was launched in an advertisement where a train hawker was seen calling out customers to buy cola but when someone asks for it, he hands over the Center Fresh Cola flavor in a way as if he was handling a bottle of cola.
The advertisement of “Newer and Fresher” Center Fresh had the tagline of ‘Chali Hawa Mastani’ and featured a young man trying to get a glimpse of his favorite actress during a shoot and as she throws tantrums regarding heat, he sends off his Center Fresh breath to cool her off and thus, winning her attention. The new ‘Chali Hawa Mastani’ campaign has another advertisement in 2017 where a young girl is seen searching for someone and asks a young boy standing on the door. He pops in a Center Fresh and answers her with his “Taaza saans”.
The confectionary market has always been competitive for Center Fresh as it has to compete with multinational giant corporations namely Lotte, Cadbury, Mars, Nestle, Hershey, Parle and of course ITC which has been running steadily strong with its candy-gum brand Candyman.
Although not old in operation in the Indian confectionary market, since 1994, Center Fresh has been a consistent player in competition to other chewing gum brands. Apart from its constantly low cost of the lowest currency in India i.e. 1 Rupee, the brand has been successful in reaching out to mass because of its catchy taglines on digital media.