The Indian snack market has always been crowded and the arrival of foreign brands stepped up the level of competition even more so. From an expensive tube of Pringles (are they really chips?!) to the local ‘murruku’ brands, shoppers like me are spoilt for choice when we get to the snack section.

These snacks are great ‘in-between-meals’, great side dishes and best of all, the perfect mid night snack. The top players in this zone offer different size and price variants, while the different flavors add to the temptation and has any diet going down the drain.

The giants in this sector belonging to the mid-range price are Lays, Bingo, Kurkure, Cornitos and Hippo. Though Parle, Uncle Chips and Balaji belong to the same league, they don’t have a nationwide availability and Cheetos doesn’t have a separate India page.

In a shift (or rather fragmentation) from traditional media to social media, these brands have put their best ‘chip’ forward to spearhead this transition. Here is our analysis from June 15th to July 15th, 2013 of how these brands are performing on social media.

Facebook – every brand’s comfort zone

All these brands seem to be extremely comfortable with Facebook. The fans are pre-dominantly male and below 30 years of age (which, not surprisingly, is the main demographic of Facebook users in India). Fan numbers could be a reflection of the market dominance of each brand which leads us to believe that Bingo, Lay’s and Kurkure are the biggies of this sector, while Hippo and Cornitos are still in the adolescent stages.

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Cornitos and Hippo might be smaller in terms of market value and fan base, but this only means they have the most scope for innovation and growth. Hippo has recently just begun to show signs of activity and is re-surfacing on social media but we haven’t seen it hit top gear yet. Cornitos, on the other hand, underwent a makeover in recent times and this has boosted its social media presence and it expanded its fan base by 41%. Bingo is also currently ramping up its social media activities to promote the re-christening of their potato chips as the “Yumitos”, which sounds to me like the brand manager took a trip to the states and discovered Doritos.

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The content strategy of the brand plays a major role in its engagement, growth and all other metrics. All these brands post a huge amount around Bollywood, their brand ambassador, contests and questions to fans. Kurkure seems to repeat posts periodically (hey, if it ain’t broke…) while Lay’s utilizes photos of cricketers and celebrity endorser Saif Ali Khan. Cornitos posted about its “special cornitos recipe” contest and about the winners.

The Engagement Score is calculated based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and estimated impressions each post gets. In spite of having fewer posts, Lay’s engaged the best with fans and Hippo, with just 2 posts, engaged quite well with its fans.

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Top 3 Most Engaging Posts

Kurkure_Facebook

Brand: Kurkure

Engagement Score: 191

Lays_India_Facebook

Brand: Lay’s

Engagement Score: 179

Lays_India_Facebook_post

Brand: Lay’s

Engagement Score: 178

All the brands allow the fans to post on their wall. Hippo’s replies, though just few in number, are interesting and consistent, but nothing can be judged until the page gains more momentum. Kurkure has replied to over 64% of fan posts, but the reply consists of just a smiley face, which I think means they get a C+ for effort. Bingo and Cornitos respond by either liking the posts or by replying to relevant posts while Lay’s stays mute to these fan posts.

Tweets – The ‘Chip’ size medium

The 140 character updates have become second nature to many. Twitter has become as essential and necessary as Facebook in the lives of the young and ambitious. These brands have tried and tested the Twitter waters to arrive at what can only be described as an interesting strategy. Kukure has the most followers, though Bingo was the first one to join Twitter as early as in June 2009. In contrast to its rather disappointing show on Facebook, Hippo is ranked second by number of followers, showing its potential and follower power.

Unmetric_Chips_Twitter_Report

Lay’s, joined Twitter in only early 2012 and has been adding followers left, right and center. They grew by 37% in the time period analyzed. Cornitos’ growth rate is unavailable as the brand was added very recently to the Unmetric database.

A factor other than growth rate that says about the brand is the frequency of its Tweets and type of Tweet (proactive/ re-tweet/ replies). Since mid-June, Bingo has been inactive on Twitter and has sent out no Tweets – are they looking for a new agency to take over? Let’s wait and see.

Unmetric_Chips_Twitter_Tweets_Report

Though immediate assistance or service is not required for the snack category, replying to fan tweets is of prime importance to build an affinity with the community; social media is not a one way street after all! The average reply times are alarmingly high while the numbers of replies are very low. These brands could do well if they engaged a little bit more on Twitter.

YouTube presence

Only Lay’s, Kurkure and Bingo have established YouTube channels. Of these three, the Bingo channel has been inactive for the last 5 years; Lay’s and Kurkure have been active as recent as a month ago. Both brands mostly add TVCs to their channel; Lay’s also adds cricket news and videos in line with a lot of their offline sponsorship deals. Different videos have seen varying levels of success, while some have been viewed more than 1 million times, some have not even been viewed a few hundred times.

How good is the overall social media presence?

Overall, some of these brands seem to be undergoing a stop-start strategy on social media, they have a burst of activity, followed by a lull as shown by Hippo on Facebook and Bingo on Twitter. Consistency and a long term strategy is required, perhaps they would do well to check out how Pringles is able to captivate their communities across social networks.

That said, we can see some innovation coming from these brands. Whether it’s Bingo’s Facebook app, Cheetos International’s latest cross-platform YouTube game or Cornito’s offline Chef Contest, these brands have definitely innovated in their promotions as on their chips. As you guys check out your favorite snack brand’s social media, it’s finally time for me to break open a pack of some yummy crunchy snacks!

Disclosure: Unmetric is an advertiser at Lighthouse Insights.