Started by Raghunandan Kamath, Natural, an ice cream brand has completed 35 years. To mark this special occasion they launched an exclusive, experiential zone ‘Naturals Now’ in April 2019. Srinivas R Kamath, director-retail at Kamaths Ourtimes Ice Cream Pvt Ltd, speaks to us on the experiential zone and more.
How did you come up with the concept of Naturals Now?
Srinivas: We are celebrating 35 years of the Naturals brand this year. Back in 1984 when we opened our first flagship store, the ice cream was made in the kitchen within the premises. So, when we conceptualised the idea of an experiential zone to celebrate our landmark year, we thought of coming back to the neighbourhood where our journey started and recreate the experience for the new generation. With better technology we can now make the ice cream in front of the patrons and let them experience the process. This also gives us the opportunity to experiment with flavours and rekindle with our loyal fan base. This was the thought behind Naturals Now.
The brand has just completed 35 years. What do you think helped make the brand a success?
Srinivas: I believe consistency and quality has been the core strength of the brand. Naturals ice cream is made using only three ingredients: buffalo milk, fruit and sugar. We have never added artificial flavours to our product which has been our strong point. Our signature flavours like tender coconut, jamun and custard apple have been the favourites over the years and has kept the loyalist coming back.
Apart from your product, is there any other thing in the industry that you think has helped your brand?
Srinivas: I think value for money is another characteristic that keeps our base of customers as well.
Over the years you’ve experimented with various flavours. So tell us about your experience, what was a hit, what did you miss out at, what was the bad experience, what was the good experience?
Srinivas: The market is dynamic and consumer awareness is high. Apart from seasonal flavours, it is necessary to experiment and innovate. New flavours are essential for the growth of the business. We had invented a cucumber flavour and for that, we had won gold medal in a contest that year. However, when it was introduced in the market, it did not take off. So there have been a few misses. It’s just like a critically acclaimed movie, not many people like it. So no flavour has been bad for us. In general, customers are happy with our offerings. Many wait for the seasonal flavours and new introductions. Our flavours of the week has been a popular attraction for the patrons.
At this large scale of production, how do you ensure quality control and assurance?
Srinivas: We have very good and strong tie-ups with our suppliers of raw materials. They are part of the Naturals family and we work with them to provide a conducive environment for supplying the best possible product. We believe good ingredients make for a great product. We have a very dedicated team that tests every product at every stage. And only if it passes one stage then it goes to the next stage. We don’t want to compromise with the health and safety of those who consume our ice creams. At the management level, the roles are divided for production, operation and retail. This ensures maintenance of quality and seamless experience at every touch point.
What’s the future plan for the brand?
Srinivas: Naturals Now is a new adventure for us. It’s an offspring of the Naturals brand but very different and unique in its philosophy. Naturals Now is fluid, experimental, vibrant and believes in living in the moment. This is the focus for now and we are keen to see how it shapes up.