Getting Indian Consumers to Accept Olive Oil

Getting Indian Consumers to Accept Olive Oil

Serendipity: On a visit to Perth, Australia in 2002, V.N. Dalmia, chairman of New Delhi-based Dalmia Continental was introduced to the way olive oil was used to flavor food in Italian cuisine.

The dilemma: Most Indians were not aware if olive oil could be used for cooking. Most of the olive oil imported into India was used for massage; while the extra virgin kind was thought suitable only for Italian cuisine. Getting into this sector would mean acquiring large tracts of land for olive orchards which would bear fruit after five long years of planting olive trees.

The counsel: Dalmia’s advisers suggested that, instead of a high-investment venture, they start by importing private-label olive oil from Mediterranean countries, to introduce the product to India, and then build their own brand. The firm would change consumer perceptions of the product’s use using a strategy of strong communication about olive oil’s health benefits – the marketing effort would involve printed material, presentations to target audiences, panel discussions, seminars, road shows, event sponsorship and working with hospitals, clinics and cancer societies.

The product: And so was born the Leonardo brand olive pomace oil — a grade of refined olive oil suitable for Indian cooking and frying with a neutral taste and a high smoke point. By the end of 2012, Leonardo oil was a $400 million brand, which two years later held 36 percent of the edible olive-oil market in India.


The Key Takeaway: Consumer acceptance and brand recall are the cornerstones of successful marketing strategy and often hard to achieve reports The Washington Post

(In 2014, Cargill acquired the Leonardo Olive Oil business from Dalmia Continental.)


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