Strategy Consulting | Advertising

How do we help a local spice brand from Pune make it to kitchen shelves in India?

What was the task? 

The ambition of Suhana, a local spices brand from Pune, was to become a big player in the regions of Mumbai, Maharashtra, MP and Gujarat. However, the spices category came with some unique characteristics that made it challenging for a brand like Suhana to win the race against the competition. From big national brands dominating the media with high visibility to regional players exercising a stronghold when it came to on-ground retailers, the task for us was to declutter the shelf and make space for Suhana.

Uncovering insights

To better understand the category as well as the consumers, our team carried out extensive research in target regions using interesting and insightful research immersions. From potlucks with cooks at home to spice market visits, we understood the motivations of all the stakeholders involved in the business.

The problem

Because of the impact spices have on the flavor of food, loyalty towards brands is very high in most households. Families are very resistant when it comes to changing the taste that they are used to. Even if a consumer is looking for a change, big national brands and strong regional players dominate the market and exert control over retailers who play an important role in pushing brands for experimentation.

The approach

To get people to consider Suhana, we decided to differentiate it from the other packets on the shelf through it’s offerings as well as the communication.

Instead of fighting on a hugely dominated turf of straight powders (chili, turmeric and coriander) and blends; we decided to lead our efforts with a relatively new category of ‘Ready to cook' mixes such as paneer butter masala, chicken tikka etc.

When it came to the communication platform, we realised that the leading brands had already occupied the most relevant differentiators like purity, authentic taste, flavor and heritage . Also, every brand seemed to be talking to the eater and promising to fulfil their expectation of great taste. So, we decided to posture Suhana as a contemporary spice brand providing a superlative taste experience that delights both the eater and the cook.

The idea of ‘joy of cooking and eating’ was converted into consumer vocabulary trhough a colloquial phrase 'Mazaa aa gaya!'; a spontaneous response we give after having a great meal.


With ‘Mazaa aa gaya!’ as our driving thought, we decided to break category codes in order to stand apart from the national leaders and strong regional players. When the entire category banked on traditional wisdom and heritage to drive brand affinity, we took a progressive outlook to drive experimentation. Since non-veg mixes sell more than veg ones, in the first ad, we chose to take a provocative approach by showcasing the uniquely Indian phenomenon of a veg versus non-veg debate.


In the following ads we changed the communication focus from process and ingredients to taste and enjoyment for both the eater and the cook. In a category dominated by either an emotional or a celebratory tone, we used simple, humorous situations with an insightful twist using food memories as a creative device.


Now, 'Mazaa aa gaya!' leads all of Suhana’s brand communication, be it internal or external.