Aurora Magazine

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Awesome Oatsom

Shan ventures into the healthy foods category with Oatsom, instant-flavoured oats.
Published 23 Feb, 2024 10:31am

According to well-known nutritionists and wellness consultants in Pakistan, people, particularly those aged between 20 and 35 are becoming increasingly health conscious. This is evident in their consumption of healthier breakfast options, such as flavoured oatmeal, smoothies and yoghurt, rather than anda paratha and halwa-puri. Furthermore, when it comes to Millennials and Gen X, they are not only health-conscious, but they are also into flavours. Unfortunately, healthy breakfast options in Pakistan are somewhat limited and mainly restricted to cereal, oats, muesli and granola bars – most of which are imported. Taking advantage of this gap, Shan Foods launched Oatsom – instant, flavoured oats – in October 2023.

Prior to launching the product, Shan commissioned research on dietary preferences among young adults and discovered two findings. The first was that there is a perception among consumers that oats are mainly consumed by the elderly or by people with digestive issues. The second was the trend towards healthy eating and lifestyle habits. These findings were supported by research conducted in the international markets where Shan brands are available.

Armed with these findings and their reputation as a company known for their masalas, noodles, sauces, and achars, Shan decided to launch Oatsom before the onset of winter, although the brand team clarified that the fact that the consumption of hot oats increases in winter was coincidental and not deliberate.

Four variants were launched. Two are sweet (banana and strawberry) and two are savoury (chicken and chatpatta). The introduction of savoury options was prompted by the trend in Pakistan, whereby a significant proportion of people opt for instant noodles as a daytime snack or as an easy meal for lunch or dinner. Oatsom is planning to compete with this market by providing a healthier alternative.

Oatsom is priced at Rs 100 for a single 39-gram packet and a box of 10 costs Rs 950; price points that make Oatsom a more affordable alternative compared to most other oats brands (which are not instant). The product is available in 10 major cities including Islamabad, Faisalabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Peshawar.

“Given its current status as a niche category, the priority is to ensure the product is stocked in the larger stores,” explains Humayun Sheikh, Director Marketing, Shan Foods.

Oatsom is not available in the small neighbourhood shops because the target audience (health-conscious consumers, between 18 to 35 years, SEC A, B and possibly C) are unlikely to shop there. Added to this is the fact that smaller shops are hesitant to stock products that do not fall into a well-known category. The product, however, is available on e-commerce platforms. 

Sheikh says, “We are carving a niche for the product and we realise this is a new, ‘slow-burner’ category; a category we have to be patient with.”

Oatsom is marketed as a healthy and flavourful option. Their creative agency, Reactivate, has released two separate DVCs for the sweet and savoury flavours; currently, the communication centres on health and flavour. Social media platforms are used to publicise the product and free sampling trials are held at supermarkets. Both the packaging and the communication strategy focus on conveying the fact that oatmeal is a fun and exciting breakfast option. 

Although it is too early to determine which flavour is more in demand, Sheikh says the banana flavour seems to be favoured in the sweet category and chatpatta in the savoury category. He adds that 70% of the consumers have been willing to try the product – considerably higher than the norm of 30%.

To maintain quality, the raw oats and natural flavourings are imported (local oats are inferior in quality), and the product is manufactured under the same roof as Shan’s other products, but in a separate section.   

Oatsom is the first step that Shan is taking in the healthy foods category and plans to eventually experiment with products related to oats such as granola bars. Sheikh says that oats are a huge category internationally and that “We will be launching Oatsom in the UK and North America and once we reach scale, we will launch multiple formats of oats in Pakistan.”