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The Future for Brands Lies in Passing Over Control to Consumers

BASES, a NielsenIQ business, has released the winners of the highly anticipated ‘BASES Top Breakthrough Innovations’ 2021 awards, its annual list of successful innovations by brands across India along with exclusive details enshrining winners’ strategies and how they conceived the brilliant ideas.


NielsenIQ BASES is a leader in helping companies build brands through innovation, renovation, strategy, and go-to-market optimisation, and is a trusted partner globally, and across industries. BASES helps maximise brand success end-to-end through advanced predictive analytics, behavioural science, proprietary databases, expert advice, and agile, digital technology platforms.


NielsenIQ BASES uses different evaluation criteria for innovations that are meant for mass consumption vis-a-vis those that target a niche audience. This varies depending on whether the objective is to garner long term revenue gain vs short term, growing the category pie, gaining share within the category or just staving off competitive pressure. NielsenIQ BASES scrutinized innovations across 100+ categories with a minimum 18 months in-market presence in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) & OTC (Over the Counter).


“When assessing innovations, there is no ‘one size fits all‘ approach anymore. It is crucial to know the company’s objectives and innovation strategy. An essential factor to consider is the strength of the innovation over time in sync with revenue objectives and other criteria. In the post-pandemic era, Indian consumers have become health conscious and altered their choices to be more environmentally-friendly, this trend is visible across product categories,” said Vidya Sen, South Asia Lead, NielsenIQ BASES.


It is October 2021, but COVID-19 is still a matter of concern in growing and developing markets like India: 9 out of 10 Indian respondents interviewed in the BASES survey express concern about COVID-19 and 80% of Indians consider hygiene products to be more important today versus pre-pandemic. COVID-19 has only increased the sense of health hygiene consciousness and concern for the environment while reducing mobility. Innovations that made it to the ‘Top Breakthrough Innovations’ list are very conscious of this shift in consumer behaviour, and healthy, natural and sustainable are core to their product offerings.


Breakthrough Innovations seized the innovation opportunity through various strategies

Some winners offered natural or local ingredients – such as Himalaya Pure Hands Hand Wash, Colgate® ZigZag Neem, Oral-B Shiny Clean With Clove Extract and Good Knight Naturals Neem Agarbatti. Others drove success through health and immunity platforms – like STAYFIT ORSFIT, enhanced with vitamins for better health, and Sunfeast Veda Marie Light, built on Ayurveda’s health property. Wowper™ Fresh PANTS won consumers with a positioning as a ‘local brand‘, personal and within reach. Keventer Dairy targeted the East and Northeast part of India and made good quality milk available to those consumers. Convenience was the route to success for Godrej Expert Easy 5 mins Shampoo Hair Color.


Adding zest and festivity with their new flavours helped beverages Red Bull Orange, Red Bull Coconut Twist and Cadbury Dairy Milk Very Strawberry be among the top innovations. 


As an extension of its consulting work, NielsenIQ BASES has identified a slew of exciting future trends among consumers in India. These include: Technology – a key innovation enabler, Convenience and easy access will be deal-breakers, Consumers appreciate honesty and transparency, Kindness to Mother Earth is valued, and last but not the least – Health is the new ‘wealth’. 


‘Natural ingredients’, ‘honesty & transparency’

Organic has emerged as a popular choice specifically for Indians, compared to other markets. Clean ingredient lines and locally grown ingredients are among the common top two choices which drive impact on trust, innovation and the premium aspect for Indian consumers. Additionally, consumers now want greater transparency when it comes to their food, especially in understanding which ingredients go into these products, as well as where and how the food is grown or made. 90% of Indian consumers place greater emphasis on transparency, because of the impact that their food choices will have on their personal health.


“By putting the spotlight on the ingredients within the product, brands give consumers a sense of security that the product is made with quality ingredients. If there are pro-health nutrients with proven benefits, brands should consider incorporating these facts into the pack label. Consumers are looking for easier ways to connect the food they eat to health benefits, but are not educated enough on the specific ingredient/nutrient relationships to make the connection on their own,” said Vidya.


Health is the new ‘wealth’

BASES research found that Indians want their beverages to be healthy (56%), nutritious (68%) and have a great taste (83%). As Indian consumers are looking more and more for holistic health benefits, they claim to favour sophisticated ingredients such as Plant-based protein, Magnesium, Collagen, Electrolytes and Creatine to create fortified beverages.


“Consumers perceive the current offerings to be falling short on nutrition. They offer taste and convenience but there’s scope for them to improve on their health quotient. Energy boosting and immunity enhancing beverages find favour in India. From an ingredient angle, probiotics, plant based, and organic ingredients are desired by Indian consumers. While innovating within the health space, brands should keep sight of taste & affordability,” said Vidya.


Kindness to mother earth, with sustainable packaging

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, they are also more concerned about the environmental impact of brands’ packaging choices. The research findings show that excessive pack waste is the topmost concern for Indians when it comes to consuming beverages, followed by unhealthiness. Indians are more open to biodegradable packaging followed by refillable/multi-use pack types.


Technology is a key enabler

Consumers seek a lot more control while making purchasing decisions and the COVID-19 pandemic has further cemented this attitude – paving the way for a digital revolution. Claimed usage of online services for personal care, food and OTC indeed went up by 65%, 45% and 78% respectively. Following this shopping trend, consumers in India are also generally receptive to trying tech-enabled personal care solutions such as Facial Assessment and Smart Electrical Appliances.


“The use of technology is reshaping our expectations of high quality customer service and product purchasing. Consumers are seeking more personalization and COVID has disrupted the way in which we shop. The ability to personalize products to consumers’ unique needs will be a differentiator for brands, especially in cosmetics, hair and facial skin care,” said Vidya.


Convenience and access

An increasing number of Indians are using online pharmacies and mobile apps for more convenient interactions at home. 60% of Indians are much more comfortable buying medicine from an online pharmacy than 5 years ago and 66% are currently using a health-supporting app on their phone or computer.


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About NielsenIQ

NielsenIQ is the leader in providing the most complete, unbiased view of consumer behavior, globally. Powered by a groundbreaking consumer data platform and fueled by rich analytic capabilities, NielsenIQ enables bold, confident decision-making for the world’s leading consumer goods companies and retailers.


Using comprehensive data sets and measuring all transactions equally, NielsenIQ gives clients a forward-looking view into consumer behavior in order to optimize performance across all retail platforms. Our open philosophy on data integration enables the most influential consumer data sets on the planet. NielsenIQ delivers the complete truth.


NielsenIQ, an Advent International portfolio company, has operations in nearly 100 markets, covering more than 90% of the world’s population.


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