May 12, 2017

Saffola Aura Oil Review

Wanted to SEO this post, so the title. But it is not a review of the product, rather my arguments on why we don't need such products in the first place.

Long, sarcastic rant ahead. Proceed at your own peril.

Yesterday, my Instagram feed was filled with pictures and videos from the launch of Saffola Aura oil. I follow too many food bloggers and I guess most of them were invited for the event in Mumbai. I’m sure atleast the flight tickets would have been covered.

Now for the facts - Saffola Aura oil is a blend of refined Spanish olive oil and flaxseed oil. MRP is a whopping Rs.1150 for 1 litre (as checked in BigBasket).

Having studied marketing and consumer behaviour with so much interest, I can imagine how this product would have been conceptualised.

“Ok, what’s the latest buzzword in nutrition these days?”
“Omega-3. Good for heart”
“Hmm, flaxseeds. It has been used in India for centuries but we’ll have to position it as premium"
“Let’s launch a premium oil brand with imported olives and flaxseeds. We can command a premium then”

For the launch planning,
“Let’s invite all popular food bloggers for the launch."
"Let’s also invite a nutritionist whose book is a national best seller”
“We also need a chef to demonstrate few recipes”

Chef discusses with the launch team
"Given that we Indians love our pickles and it is summer with loads of mangoes available, how about making a mango pickle with this exotic oil?”
“Wow, great idea! Pickles need more oil and we can increase consumption rate of this oil”

I brushed through my beloved Consumer Behaviour textbook this morning. The five product characteristics that influence consumer acceptance of new products are:
1. Relative advantage - the degree to which potential customers perceive a new product as superior to existing substitutes.
    By now, everyone is aware of olive oil and its benefits. To stand out, this new brand has included the latest popular Omega-3 rich flaxseed. If you look at the ingredient list carefully, you’ll note that the percentage of olive oil:linseed oil is 80:20 in this blend. (Linseed is another name for flaxseed).

2. Compatibility - the degree to which potential consumers feel a new product is consistent with their present needs, values and practices
    Clearly, that mango pickle demonstration falls under this category.

3. Complexity - the degree to which a new product is easy to understand or use
    Nothing complex here, the existing olive oil brands have already done a stupendous job of showing how you can deep fry pooris in olive oil. 

4. Trialability - the degree to which a new product is capable of being tried on a limited basis
     The brand has launched a pack size of 250 ml at a cost of Rs.350. For the target audience, 350 bucks is easily affordable.

5. Observability - the ease with which a product’s benefits or attributes can be observed, imagined or described to potential consumers.
     The demonstration by the chef and the cook-off event did exactly that. I’m sure the food bloggers will come up with a series of posts using this brand of oil. The TV ads will follow with attractive imagery and visual depiction of how the oil keeps everyone in the family heart-healthy.

Seriously, I wish someone launches cold pressed coconut oil, sesame oil and groundnut oil in a grand manner. Typically, these cold pressed oils are available in organic stores or in a few stalls in community events. When we visit such places, our mind asks questions like “Why are these cold-pressed oils so expensive?”, “How can I trust the process and believe it is actually cold-pressed?”.

If you can afford such expensive olive oils, you can afford cold-pressed oils easily. It will create a new stream of employment and enable small-scale manufacturers to survive.

You can say that this post is creating publicity for this brand of olive oil. It can be but even otherwise you would get to know about it through a huge advertising campaign and sponsored posts from the so-called influencers.

Please, let’s use some common sense and not embrace anything imported that comes with a health tag, high MRP and promoted by influencers in the food business.

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