Although chocolate as a flavour is generally recognised as one of the most longstanding and popular in most markets, till date Julie’s has not had any specific focus on developing chocolate biscuits for its portfolio.
“This was a major opportunity we realised, that Julie’s product portfolio was missing strong chocolate biscuits [despite] our understanding of consumer snacking behaviour and trends such as indulgent snacking and dark chocolate flavours,” Julie’s Biscuits Director Tzy Horng Sai told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We initially developed Charm as a new product to target selected export markets [based on its] dark chocolate biscuit shell with smooth creamy dessert-inspired fillings that fulfil demands for indulgent, rich flavours – but later market research showed that the Malaysian market has ample opportunities for this range.
“As such Malaysia will be the first market where we will have a major launch for Charm, which will be made available in most local and international chain retail stores from Lotus’s to Aeon, TF Value and more.
“The plans moving forward will be to expand this range’s presence and export to cover all exporting markets and countries that Julie’s is present in.”
Charm is currently available in two flavours – Double Chocolate and Tiramisu.
“The R&D for this range took some five years of work, and we have determined that the primary target consumers for this are in the demographic aged 20 and above,” Julie’s Head of Branding and Marketing (NPD) Elizabeth Lum added.
“This is because this primary target market has characteristics that this range is suited for, such as being accepting to exploring new items as well as many indulgent snackers and dessert lovers.
“The Charm biscuits were specifically designed to be bite size and provide an elegant bite – going further to leave almost no messy crumble, which further fits into the indulgence trend.”
Innovation to combat inflation
Similar to many other major food and beverage firms in the region, Julie’s has acknowledged the negative impacts of economic and inflationary challenges, but believes that innovation is the most important requirement for the biscuit market to continue to flourish.
“The market is slowly recovering after COVID-19, but everyone is aware that there is a pinch arising from the rise of living costs, and there is a need for biscuit companies to innovate to continue being relevant to consumers,” Tzy said.
“Our internal efforts in analytics and research have found for example that the chocolate segment continues to be one of the most resilient, and is emerging to project more value in price - this has been a good key learning that we have applied in our present strategic leverage.”
This innovation extends far beyond just the creation of new flavours, but overall product concepts and packaging presentation.
“Apart from just flavour extensions, we look into creating more excitement in the market through the introduction of limited editions, discovering different consumer consumption behaviours and bringing in more value than just a biscuit,” Lum said.
“We have also found that familiar favourites tend to capture better reception in the international market [and] texture and mouthfeel innovations are also a major area of attention for us.
“There is also a lot of work and close attention paid to the packaging design and product naming, such as with Charm which packs a strong visual outlook on the packaging and the naming is expected to reflect an enchanting indulgent experience – this is all important to appeal to our target consumers today.”