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  A New Packaged Milk Brand Flows into Pakista   A New Packaged Milk Brand Flows into Pakista  Umair Naeem  
A New Packaged Milk Brand Flows into Pakista Brands like Milk Pak (owned by Nestle) and Haleeb Milk (from Haleeb Foods) had led the dairy market in the world’s fourth largest milk producing country for nearly two decades—without any real sustained competition. Engro Foods, in contrast, had only recently been established by Engro—a traditional giant in Pakistan's chemical and fertilizer (yes, chemical and fertilizer) industry.

Branding experts could not imagine how Olper’s could distance itself from its parent company’s incredibly unappetizing, chemical-laden, and non-edible roots. Yet, by the end of 2006, sales for Olper’s Milk had reached Rs.1 billion (approximately US$ 15 million) and in 2008, the brand has a market share of close to 22 percent—second only to Milk Pak (estimated at 40 percent). The critics had to grudgingly accept that the new entrant to the multi-billion rupee packaged milk category meant business.

The packaged milk category was originated in 1981 by (quaintly named) Milk Pak, which pioneered tetra pack milk in Pakistan. The supply chain involved collecting milk from rural areas across Punjab, processing the milk through UHT (Ultra-High Temperature Processing) treatment, and selling it to consumers in uniquely colored triangular and rectangular packs designed to prolong the milk’s quality. Milk Pak’s “Milk Packs” were very well-received and the brand soon became synonymous with quality milk. Its first real competition came in the form of Haleeb, which introduced distinctively blue tetra packs to the market in 1986.

Milk Pak, however, further grew in stature when Nestle used it to break into Pakistan's marketplace. By 2006, the dairy milk category was growing at 20 percent annually, and Milk Pak and Haleeb were well-entrenched brands with distinctive colors and brand promises of providing high quality, natural and healthy milk. Milk Pak was identified by its green and white packaging—the colors of the country—and offered a brand backed with the strong equity of Nestle, coupled with its own traditional heritage. Haleeb was recognized as the blue brand, and professed to have the "naturally thickest" milk. With the market dominated by two strong, familiar, and widely respected brands, the marketplace appeared completely impervious to newcomers.

Olper’s, however, stepped into the foray by launching a massive campaign that started off with an introductory slice-of-life television commercial featuring some of the biggest stars in Pakistan. Billboards went up at key locations in the major cities, and soon the brand had become a voice above the media clutter—a voice that differentiated Olper's brand from the others.

Rafey Nisar Zuberi, the marketing manager for Engro Foods, says, “From the onset, we wanted to introduce a true paradigm, bringing the dairy brand to the fore.” The name itself made it sound like a foreign brand, giving the perception of quality, and was unlike anything previously experienced by Pakistani consumers. Rafey continues, “We wanted consumers to consider Olper’s as a contemporary and modern brand, and all of our communication and brand attributes were geared toward ensuring that end.”

To a large extent, they were successful. “It was certainly a campaign with its own unique identity,” says Farah Jamaluddin, a media professional. “All of their communication was aesthetically on the mark and had a sense of synergy about it,” she explains.

Olper’s went with red as its color—a color far removed from the greens and blues that had become synonymous with packaged milk. “Picking red as the brand color was by far an inspired choice,” says Zara Shaheen, an Olper’s customer. “It created a whole new perceptual niche for Olper’s,” she adds. The color also helped to enhance the in-store visibility and presence for Olper’s packaged milk, and the brand was instantly disassociated from its competition.

The brand also worked to ensure it established an image of being a healthy and natural product. Its optimistic and vibrant tag line—“Good Morning Life”—along with the unique red color, became the soul of the Olper’s brand identity across various media outlets. Rafey explains the choices behind promoting the brand attributes, “We are big believers in the primary tenet of marketing: getting to know your consumers through research.” He continues, “For Olper’s, everything from the color and the packaging, to the recipe and the name, was thoroughly consumer tested.”

The campaign highlighted and expanded upon the various occasions in which milk could, and should, be enjoyed—and kept driving home that message through its various promotions. Olper’s became the "All Purpose Milk" and could be consumed with breakfast or blended with tea (arguably the most popular beverage for the masses in Pakistan), and appreciated by all members of the family. Engro Foods utilized a dynamic campaign, and during Ramazan (the Muslim month of fasting), molded its message to talk about the "All Purpose" nature of their brand during both Iftaar (breaking of the fast at dusk) and Sehree (pre-dawn food before the fast). “We are aiming to own the religious month and our special edition packaging, Ramazan relevant ATL (Above The Line—television, radio, etc.) and tailor-made iftaar activations, are aimed at building the necessary association we want in consumers’ minds,” Rafey points out.

Other avenues of BTL (Below The Line—brochures, flyers, etc.) have also contributed to the brand’s success. The World of Olper’s, for example, involves reaching out to the different locations in various cities and having the housewives participate in learning and showcasing milk-based recipes. “The intention is to purely build trial experiences,” says Rafey. “We are in our third year, and so far we have had close to 350,000 contacts,” he adds with pride. The Olper’s Consumer Relationship Party is another ongoing BTL based program, which intends to create and maintain loyalty amongst the brand’s users.

In its launch, Engro Foods has made a conscious and concerted effort to distance its milk brand from its parent company’s chemical and fertilizer roots to ensure that no negative connotations or cross-pollination of brand identities were manifested in the minds of consumers. Interestingly though, the company has been able to use Engro’s historical equity with rural farmers positively toward growing its milk collection network in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab.

“Our milk collection network has grown exponentially post launch,” says Rafey. “So much so that we reached our supply capacity within six months and had to begin using a second UHT plant within three months,” he adds. Today, Engro Foods aims to become the only company to utilize all of the milk collecting areas in Pakistan and also plans on developing the biggest dairy farm in the country. The company’s reputation as a local giant actively involved with community welfare in remote areas has also been a positive add-on for Engro Foods.

Evidently, Olper’s has woken up the competition. Milk Pak responded with campaigns of its own to reaffirm the positive equity of its brand and has largely focused on a message of health, vitality, and strength through quality milk. Haleeb implemented a response as well. Despite dwindling market share, Haleeb increased its marketing in the media and commitment to promoting its brand. Also, newcomers such as the generically-named Good Milk and Pakola Milk have tried penetrate the market, but without much success. Rafey comments on the increasingly competitive landscape, “Olper’s is very strong in terms of consumer quality perception… our monthly blind taste tests show that consumers rate Olper’s significantly higher than Milk Pak and Haleeb.”

With Olper’s, Engro Foods has established a strong regional presence and intends to increase that footprint over the next few years. Within the dairy market, the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) company now has a diverse portfolio of products ranging from different types of cream to premium low fat milk, and its future appears promising—as long as Olper's continues to understand its consumers and follow through on that knowledge. Rafey underscores the company’s direction for the brand: “When we launched, we wanted to be the market leader in five years.” Given that the brand is considered one of the fastest growing FMCG brands in Pakistan, it could well be achieved.     



Umair Naeem has an MBA in Marketing from IBA Karachi, and currently works with a leading Multinational FMCG Company in Pakistan. He is also an Editor with CIO Pakistan as well as being a columnist on e-Pakistan for Netxpress Online.

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A New Packaged Milk Brand Flows into Pakistan
 Dear Umair,

It is a wonderful article.

Best Regards,
Noman Khan,
Noman Khan - October 21, 2008
 Umair its a very wonder ful info. thx.. 
saqib, MBA (Finance), Pak-AIMS - October 21, 2008
 Hi Umair,
Very nice article with perfect flow.

You can make it more interesting by additing some statistics.

Keep it up 
M Mujeeb Malik, Marketing - October 21, 2008
 Umair,Great piece of work!May i request a article on the entire packaged milk industry?regards,Sultan Ali, 
Sultan, Ali, - - October 21, 2008
 Umair, Nice article :) 
Shehzad Bhatti - October 22, 2008
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