By Piyumi Buddhakorala
In a product, quality is a given. It is those matters which extend to the hearts of the consumers which makes a brand outstanding,” observed Group Director and Head of Marketing and Sales, Ceylon Biscuits Ltd., Nandana Wickramage when The Sunday Leader asked him about Munchee’s success.
Munchee emerged winners of the SLIM-Neilson People’s Youth Food Brand of the Year 2011 award as well as the People’s FMCG Brand of the Year award at the SLIM Nielsen People’s Awards 2011 held last week.
We asked Wickramage as to what made Munchee clearly the people’s choice at the awards. “Product satisfaction,” said Wickramage without a second thought. However he claims that it is deeds done for society through the brand name that ultimately won the hearts of the people.
“Bearing in mind that the Munchee brand is a fairly young brand in comparison with our competitors, winning this award proves how much we have thus far done for the people of this country,” he observed.
Through the ‘Munchee Tikiri Shishyadara’ Munchee aims to concentrate on the education of children. It is quite evident that there are vast numbers of dropouts in rural areas, mainly due to the lack of financial support. Teaching is free, stationary and clothing items required to attend school are not. Many orphans are thus stranded. CBL has allocated a team of workers who identify such issues island wide and aims to provide necessary facilities for children in need. 1,600 children thus far, have been placed back in school.
Yet another reason that was identified was the support the brand extended to school cricket. “With the ICC Cricket World Cup in the air, this time of the year it is only fair that we train and support the future cricketers to reach a level as high as national level.”
For past few years two to three years Munchee has been supporting organizing the school cricket through its “Youth Under 19 cricket tournament teams of this country. “If not for Munchee there would be no Under 19 team for cricket in Sri Lanka!” exclaimed Wickramage. In addition, their helping hand in volleyball has made a greater difference in the hearts of the youth in our country. Munchee supports organizes the National Volleyball Tournament in collaboration with the Volleyball Federation of Sri Lanka with 4,700 teams participating every year. “It is the single largest tournament in the world with this many participating teams.”
Wickramage also speaks of employee satisfaction. “Even with the recent recession, where other companies increased prices and reduced staff, we at Munchee continued to give our staff of 2,500 their monthly increments and bonus’. In fact products such as Munchee Tikiri Marie only harm the company’s profit margins. Yet it is produced for the benefit of the poorer consumers.”
When questioned about the strategies used to mitigate rising prices instead of increasing the prices of their products, Wickramage said that Munchee aims to reduce wastage and other such factors without burdening the consumer. “We have no intention to hoodwink the consumer by increasing prices or reducing the size of the package. With automation and modern equipment we at Munchee find ways to improve productivity without affecting our consumers.” With the Sinhala and Tamil New Year not too far away, Munchee has geared the country for exclusive packaging deals, a must have when visiting family and friends, a tradition much practised in this country.
With a market share of 60% overall, the Western Province pitches in with a 35% contributory factor. Not stopping there, Munchee has expanded to 45 countries namely, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Ghana and the Middle East, which generates foreign currency, thereby boosting the economy.
Munchee has further extended their products to the North and East, which has a contribution of 15% to the total Munchee, product portfolio. profit margin. “The biscuit industry has a growth rate of 7-8%. We see great potential in this and hope to make the maximum use of it,” stated a confident Wickramage.