An ad that recently caught my attention was that of India Gate Quinoa, a new product launched by a brand that’s synonymous with basmati rice in India. It caught my attention because I am a regular consumer of quinoa and while I have seen and used quinoa by niche, organic brands, it was the first time a mainstream brand was advertising it on TV.

India Gate Quinoa – Halwa Ad

While I quite enjoyed watching the entertaining ad, I have some doubts about its potential effectiveness on a consumer who is being encouraged to try a new product category.

The ad captures several consequences that people worry about while gorging on their favorite indulgences. We’ve heard consumers voicing similar feelings in past researches – whenever they’ve been guilty of gluttony they have felt concerned about putting on weight, and mentioned having to eat unsavory health foods and staying regular with their exercise routine to compensate for their indulgences. All these worries have very high relevance in people’s lives. But are they truly insights? Or just a set of truisms that have been well exploited already? Here are links to a few ads from 7-10 years ago, by a range of food products like Nutralite – 2008, Saffola Cholesterol Management – 2008, Sugarfree Gold – 2010, Britannia Nutrichoice Hi-Fibre Biscuits -2011, which exploit a similar set of concerns. Therefore, I wonder how effective could this approach be today if other brands have used it already, and that too quite a few years ago? While these surface-level consumer beliefs could have been legitimate insights when the market was nascent, brands need to dig deeper in research to unearth real insights as the market evolves.

Apart from doubting the insight, I also question the promised benefit. India Gate Quinoa promises guilt-free indulgence, by suggesting that we cook our favorite foods, like halwa, with quinoa instead of wheat or suji (semolina).

Firstly, the benefit related information shown in the ad seems to be incomplete. While the ad suggests using quinoa instead of wheat or suji to make your favorite indulgence guilt free, it does not explain how eating wheat or suji is unhealthy or may lead to weight gain. The ad neither highlights the calorie content or nutritional information of quinoa, nor does it compare it to what it’s substituting. Unless given a reason to believe (RTB) how quinoa makes the halwa lower calorie or healthier, most of the target audience won’t buy into the promised benefit. Besides, what is the consumer’s main concern with the halwa – is it the wheat/suji or the sugar and ghee? And so, how does quinoa counterbalance these other, unhealthier elements in the halwa?

Second and more importantly, if we take a step back on the benefit of ‘guilt-free indulgence’ mentioned in the ad, is this really the most compelling benefit that quinoa can offer the consumer? I visited the India Gate Quinoa website and their YouTube page and none of the content there is about lower calories or weight loss. Instead the properties mentioned refer to quinoa being a rich source of protein and minerals and high on dietary fiber and anti-oxidants. All this nutritional information about quinoa gives the consumer reasons to believe that quinoa gives something extra in comparison to our everyday staples and can therefore promise ‘to add a whole lot of good’ into its consumers’ diets.

In the way that the ad is executed, the problem and the solution will only resonate with weight-watchers, but while doing so, the brand ignores the overall health-and-nutrition conscious. There was a time when both these segments over-lapped considerably, but given the evolution of the consumer and the market they are now distinct segments. While there is a whole gamut of products and a lot of communication addressing the weight watchers, there is hardly anyone addressing the other segment, and India Gate Quinoa would probably benefit greatly by refocusing its target audience.

Often referred to as a super food, quinoa has the potential to become an everyday staple for the health-and-nutrition conscious. But confining the communication to an already over-exploited messaging space will bung it with other healthy ingredients which are only consumed occasionally and limit its market. India Gate needs to change the conversation from taking away the ‘bad’ to ‘adding a whole lot of good’ into consumers’ diets when it comes to quinoa if it really wants to lead a change in the market.

  • Roshni Jhaveri