Aurora Magazine

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EBM Shapes up Another Sooper

Published in Jan-Feb 2022

Have you tried the new Sooper Soft Bakes yet?
Photo: Peek Freans Sooper
Photo: Peek Freans Sooper

When Sooper biscuits launched 25 years ago, these plain milk and egg cookies that mimicked the simple bakery biscuits that Pakistanis love to eat with their tea became a hit with the nation. The product’s success lay in its simplicity and ever since then English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM – the parent company) has treated its star brand with the investment and reverence that it deserves. Over the years, only two brand extensions have been launched – a cardamom flavoured biscuit and a chocolate flavoured one. That is, until now when a totally different brand extension was launched in November 2021 – a single-serve plain cake called Sooper Soft Bakes.

This is not EBM’s first foray into the packaged cakes category. Understanding the significance of what is, according to some estimates, a Rs 20 billion market with immense potential for growth, the company ventured into packaged cupcakes with a brand called Cake Up in 2018. Packaged cupcakes account for half of the packaged cake market, so this seemed like a wise choice. In 2021, more products were added to the cake portfolio with the launch of Smile (a doughnut-shaped cake) and Gluco Teddy (a teddy bear-shaped cake with all-natural ingredients).

However, all three products by and large target children and the same is not true for Sooper Soft Bakes, which is designed to reach a much wider audience.

Aaminah Saeed, GM Marketing, EBM, says the decision to extend Sooper beyond biscuits was not an easy one, but when the company delved deeper into consumption patterns, it understood that along with the biscuits that Pakistanis dunk into their tea, the other baked item most popular around the teacup is plain cake.

Using unpackaged plain cake or dhaaba cakes as a benchmark, a single-serve plain cake product priced at Rs 20 was launched targeting “all people who eat plain cake.” Setting the right price was quite important in a category that Saeed says is mostly made up of five rupee and Rs 10 products that parents generally want to put in their children’s lunch boxes. However, she explains Sooper Soft Bakes is priced very competitively when you consider that most dhaaba cakes are sold at Rs 15 to 20 per slice and the other packaged cake options in the market are all multi-serve and priced at Rs 90 and above.

The shape of the product is also interesting and while not exactly the same, it is reminiscent of a French madeleine (small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell shape). Saeed admits that although madeleines did serve as an inspiration, the shell-like grooves or stripes on the top were chosen to closely replicate the stripes on Sooper biscuits.

“Sooper continues to grow as the ‘nation’s favourite’ biscuit brand in Pakistan. For the launch, we wanted to leverage our distinctive master-brand design assets, such as the bold Sooper brand red, the prominent brand stripes, and the trusted milk and egg symbol. The contemporary design appeals to a new generation of Sooper consumers while retaining our highly recognisable brand iconography.”

In another move, EBM used Sooper’s most popular ad, "Sab se aagey, sab se ooper, Peek Freans Sooper, Peek Freans Sooper" as the basis for Sooper Soft Bakes’ communication, altering the jingle to “Sab se aagey, sab se ooper, Sooper Soft Bakes, cake hai Sooper.”

According to Saaed, all this has paid off and EBM’s internal research shows that over the last two months, Sooper Soft Bakes is the most recalled ad in Pakistan. More importantly, she says, the integrated marketing launch of the product complete with a TVC, billboards, shopper marketing, channel-specific activities, radio and regional adaptations, demonstrates that EBM is investing in the packaged cakes category in order to drive further growth. Clearly, this is going to be one to watch in the future.