Indians love their dairy products and they consume a lot of it. We are the number one milk-producing country in the world, and animal products are intrinsically woven into the daily fabric of our lives.
So, in a country where veganism as a concept is practically unknown, how difficult does it become to market a vegan ice-cream?
WhiteCub seems to have figured it out.Using alternative ingredients like soy milk and nut milk, WhiteCub has developed an entire range of frozen desserts that don’t have a single drop of dairy. What started out as an ice-cream parlor in Gurgaon in 2013, is today available at various locations across Delhi NCR and Mumbai. MarkUp talks to Sonal, CEO of WhiteCub, about going dairy-free in India.
What was the idea behind starting WhiteCub?
Prior to WhiteCub, there was no dessert on Indian market shelves, which was dairy-free and healthy. Practically, every tenth food item and every dessert in India has milk or milk products in one or the other form. This leaves those who do not or cannot consume milk with no choice. This was the primary idea behind starting WhiteCub. Post launch, we got exposed to similar dilemmas faced by people having gluten allergy. Unlike what many might think, gluten, i.e., wheat protein, is present in many food items, including those where wheat flour may not be conspicuously present. For example, many ice-creams are entirely unsuitable for people having gluten allergy.This prompted us to take a step further and make our entire range gluten-free as well.
In a dairy-obsessed nation, how difficult is it to market something vegan?
Yes, it is a challenge to market a vegan products in a country where milk products are there even in temple’s prasad and ghee ka diyaa! We overcome this challenge by not marketing WhiteCubas a vegan ice-cream, but as a dairy-free product (a subtle difference lies between the two terms), thereby ensuring an audience in those who have dairy allergy, lactose intolerance or voluntarily do not consume dairy. We have been winners of the PETA Vegan Food Awards 2013 and 2014, and are proud of the same. However, we showcase that to those who are genuinely keen on knowing this and can appreciate such nuances. To the consumers at large, we focus more on our health USPs – we are the only ‘ice-cream’ in India that is cholesterol-free, trans fat-free, dairy-free and gluten-free. Additionally, it is the doctors, health coaches and nutritionists who often advice their patients to consume WhiteCub’s ice creams as a safer and a healthier dessert alternative.
Do you think vegan is going mainstream now?
Vegan should be going mainstream, if it has not gone mainstream till now. The number of clients asking for WhiteCub as a vegan product has certainly been increasing.
What kind of channels do you rely on to market your product?
Word-of-mouth promotions and Facebook.
What trends do you foresee in new-age marketing with regards to this industry?
The arising trend would be of promotors being the brand ambassador for their own products. Promotors will stand up for a cause they believe in and then somehow combine it with their product offering.