January, 28, 2015
Freezing goodness
15 May
Posted by S Meera

Encouraged by the popularity of its frozen yoghurt, now available across 29 outlets in five cities, Cocoberry soon plans to expand reach and add other pre-packaged food products to its range

G.S. Bhalla, founder & managing director,  Cocoberry

Cocoberry, as the name suggests, combines the best of cocoa and an assortment of fruit (berry) to top off its delectable non-fat frozen yogurt. The Gurgaon-based maker of frozen yogurt has 1,30,000 fans on its Facebook page, a testimony to its popularity among its target audience, India’s youth. Little wonder then, that founder-managing director, G.S. Bhalla states that the company has grown 300 per cent in its first two years of operation since commencing in 2009. Bhalla attributes most of this growth to a rise in popularity from word of mouth recommendations by satisfied customers. That and the fact that Bhalla and his team are always looking for avenues to bring visibility to frozen yogurts – like being present at weddings with its exclusive counters.

Bhalla’s ambitions for Cocoberry in the next two years include growing the number of outlets to about 130 and introducing pre-packaged foods into its product range. “Our focus is health and wellness foods and the research and development (R & D) team is working on other products within this category,” explains Bhalla.

Spreading the word

“Our products need awareness and education is one of our key promotional activities. Every time we start somewhere fresh, we find that we have to start with educating new customers,” explains Bhalla. As a result, he believes that the best way to be present in the market is through direct outlets and not on the display shelves of supermarkets. However, Bhalla is not averse to exploring the shop-within-shop concept at supermarkets and is currently working on this option.  The brand’s franchise partners are also required to generate awareness on the product and its benefits of being low on fat and a probiotic. At present, Cocoberry has a mix of self-run outlets and outlets run by franchise partners and is present at places with high footfall such as V3S Mall and Selectcity Mall in New Delhi, market areas like the city’s Khan Market and hotels like Chandigarh’s Aroma Hotel. Expansion in the future will happen at similar locations and the balance between self-run and franchise outlets will be maintained. The company is also in talks with cinema halls to have its kiosks present there.

As the number of outlets increases, so will the distribution facilities. Currently, Cocoberry has its own distribution facility at Gurgaon and plans to increase this  whenever needed. The ingredients are distributed to specific outlets, and the product is made fresh using vending machines.

Tracing back

Cocoberry started with seed funding from a private investor in 2009. Bhalla, who is a commerce graduate from Delhi University and has done an executive education program on launching new ventures from Harvard Business School, started a knowledge process-outsourcing unit named Horizons in 2000. While he continues to run this business, in 2007, the idea of setting up a chain selling frozen yogurts caught his imagination. After spending sometime analysing the idea, Cocoberry was incorporated in 2009.

Flavourful offering

Cocoberry offers four flavours of “froyo” (frozen yoghurt) in three sizes - small, medium and large, all of which are customised with fresh fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, mango, pomegranate, musk melon and black grapes or dry toppings such as Oreo cookies, Snickers bars, granola, sliced almonds and walnuts. Cocoberry also serves a selection of hot and cold beverages such as coffees, teas and smoothies, and a variety of freshly made sandwiches.

The company, which began with five employees, has grown to about 200, with specific focus on marketing and R & D. Its marketing initiatives are concentrated on social media and Cocoberry is also looking at in-film marketing to create more buzz. Recently, it signed a contract with a leading movie house for placing its products in an upcoming movie. It also sponsored a ladies’ golf tournament and is planning a few more strategic campaigns. And in order to get there, the company is looking at raising additional funding to the tune of US $10-15 million.

Cocoberry is looking to scale up through more outlets, more products and increased visibility. Bhalla, a seasoned entrepreneur, is confident that in time, Cocoberry will be a name to reckon with in the health and wellness arena.

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