If you are a late millennial, you must have tried Hippo chips in your school days. Hippo chips was launched by Parle in 2009 and it took the snacking industry by storm with its unique taste and overall presentation. Let’s take a look at story of Hippo Chips, what happened to this exceptional product which everyone loved and for which a mass even signed a petition to bring it back in the market.
Parle sold more than 1 million Hippo Chips in the first year after launching it, yet we don’t see them in our neighborhood market shelves anymore.
There are multiple reasons given by experts on the failure of Hippo chips. Some say, it was not marketed or advertised properly, Others believe the chips were ahead of their time, as it was baked and not fried.
Nowadays there are multiple brands including BRB, Tagz, Too Yumm etc who offer baked chips like hippo chips but these startups are doing extremely well in terms of sales and revenue unlike hippo chips.
Story of Hippo Chips
Hippo Chips entered the market to get to grips with the world hunger issue, but later diverted towards selling on the promise of affection and care.
2001 established, Parle Agro was the sole manufacturer of Hippo Chips, which were launched in the year 2009. Present in every occasion, happy or sad, Hippo Chips was a mass favorite.
Neither fried chips nor biscuits, Hippo Chips were known for their flavorsome crunch and unordinary shape. Providing a guilt-free experience, Hippo Chips in no time managed to create a craving in all of India’s hearts.
Hippo chips were even free from GMO (genetically modified organisms), MSG (monosodium glutamate), trans-fat and cholesterol.
Hippo Chips were retailed in brightly colored packets, which were bigger in size than your ordinary fried chips. Presented with an adorable and humongous black hippo on every packet, Hippo chips were tainted with a big bold text stating ‘HIPPO’ to represent the hefty creature in reality.
The tagline “Hippo Fights Hunger” was appointed, to refer to their aim of providing a guilt-free munching experience during the times of hunger. It was also advertised with the saying “Bhook Duniya Ki Har Burayi Ki Jadd Hai (Hunger is the root of all evil). So, don’t go hungry.”, promoting their brand.
But gradually, its rise to fame had to come to an unfortunate end in 2014, leaving its fans fending for answers regarding their disappearance from the neighborhood supermarkets.
Petitions were signed by a whopping sum of consumers to bring by the healthy but tasty, hippo chips back.
Flavors of Hippo Chips
The crunchy, and delectable taste of the hippo chips still lingers on every Indian’s hearts and minds.
Hippo Chips were manufactured in a variety of flavors (9), the list of the delicious flavors is given below-
- Yoghurt Mint Chutney
- Afghani Tikka Masala
- Chinese Manchurian
- Indian Chatpatta
- Greek Yogurt
- Thai Chilli Cream
- Hot-n-Sweet Tomato
- Italian Pizza
- Thai Chilli
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Ad Campaigns by Hippo Chips
Parle successfully put a variety of creative marketing campaigns into motion that influenced social media platforms to a great extent.
Listed below are some of the campaigns-
- Indian Food League
During every Indian’s most awaited and much loved season, the IPL (Indian Premier League) in 2021, Hippo Chips established the IFL (Indian Food League) to attract the hefty mass of cricket lovers.
The aim of the Indian Food League was to capture the emotional competition amongst a number of Indian cities and to captivate the cricket enthusiasts during IPL. The Indian Food League or IFL capitalized on the pre-existing rivalries amongst the T20 cricket teams, very strategically pinning popular dishes and flavors from all over India against each other. The people with much excitement slipped right into the trap, and with great enthusiasm started supporting their preferred flavors through comments on the IFL microsite.
The range of dishes varied from Idli Sambhar from Chennai, Papdi Chaat from Delhi, Masala Dosa from Bangalore, Kanda Poha from Pune, Rosgolla from Kolkata, Dal Bati from Rajasthan, Dum Biryani from Hyderabad, Pav Bhaji from Mumbai and Paratha from Punjab.
Contests were organized where the participants were supposed to be as funny as they could be. Winners were selected on a daily basis and were rewarded with Hippo Beanbags. It was advertised through the famous hippo chips packaging where the backside bore the QR scanner from where the people could directly jump to the IFL microsite while the front side invited consumers to join the IFL.
IFL was without any doubt a tremendous success which resulted in a great increase in the Hippo chips sales.
- The Plan- T Campaign
With the aim to make sure their consumers don’t recognize the empty retail shelves as the hippo chips’ failure, Plan- T campaign was put into motion after acknowledging its demand and supply problems and accepting the issue at hand.
Instead of investing hefty sums of money to outsource supply and distribution tasks to address the demand-supply problem, Hippo Chips made the smart choice and opted for direct communications with their consumers.
For the resolvement of their problem, Hippo Chips urged their Twitter fanbase to submit tweets with the hashtag @HelloMeHippoAbout.
With the participation of a huge amount of participants in the campaign, the Plan-T Campaign was deemed successful. Reason of the success was definitely the strategic involvement of consumers directly at each and every step of the Hippo Chips’ supply chain across various locations.
With the aid of Twitter, Hippo managed to score new additions of 400 employees to help with the supply and distribution at 0 cost. In the preliminary phase of its takeoff, Hippo’s sales increased by 76%. The campaign enabled Hippo to record a 300% followers increase on Twitter from 800 to 4000, which aligned perfectly with 50% of its sales and distribution network.
Hippo Chips collected data from Twitter, put it through thorough analysis and forwarded the reports to the regional distributors in the affected areas. Subsequently, the distributors refilled the store shelves, which resulted in the presence of happy customers within hours.
Through the success of the Plan-T Campaign, Hippo demonstrated the ability to assess markets and identify potential opportunities for the development of their business. The decision taken up by Hippo after recognizing its shortcomings, to transform them into its very own strengths by harnessing the power of social media proved to be extremely fruitful.
Hippo with a grip on social media, connected with its customers to attain real-time solutions to availability problems. The Hippo Chips’ Twitter channel was exceptionally active with more than 4,000 tweets on a daily basis sharing everyday tidbits before its deactivation.
Reasons of Hippo Chips Failure
Despite being discontinued, Hippo Chips still acquires an extremely loyal fanbase who have deemed Hippo Chips to be a “Successful Failure”.
Hippo Chips’ loyal fanbase claims that the sole cause of the discontinuation of their favorite product is over popularity and not low demand rates. They’ve even stated that the reason for the disappearance of their beloved chips is Parle Agro not being able to keep up with the market demand.
There are a variety of hypotheses circulating on the internet which believe Hippo Chips succumbed to tough competition all over the market, leading to the discontinuation of the product.
Parle till date has not provided any sort of reasons or explanations regarding the discontinuation of Hippo Chips. But it’s still been challenging to accept this narrative, especially due to Parle’s silence regarding the same.
It became challenging for the Hippo Chips to distinguish itself in this saturated market after coming face to face with remarkable competition with very well established brands including Monaco, Bingo and Lays after its launch in the snack industry.
It was tough for Hippo Chips to set up a strong presence in the market amidst such well-known and liked snack brands.
Hippo Chips desperately required something distinct to distinguish itself and make a name for themselves in the competitive snack market. But they failed to provide something other than their unique packaging and flavors to acquire an upper hand against the competing brands.
2.) Branding and Advertising Problem
Hippo Chips gained fame and differentiated themselves through their GMO- free, MSG- free, cholesterol and trans fat free and guilt-free snacking experience. With the emphasis on Hippo Chips being baked instead of fried like regular potato chips, Parle asserted that the product was the healthier and better choice in the market compared to its competitors.
But due to the uncertainty regarding the fruitfulness of specialty healthy food snacks, Hippo Chips was unfortunately not advertised as a healthier option to attract the mass. Despite its health-oriented attributes, Parle refrained from marketing Hippo Chips for its purported health benefits.
The irony of including a giant hippo on the packaging and promoting it as a healthy snack had its own branding issues.
3.) Demand Problem
After the launch, initially Hippo Chips was met with a surge in demand that posed a challenge in meeting the rapidly rising customer interest.
After its debut, Hippo Chips received an overwhelming response from consumers from all over the country. In contradiction to the anticipation, Hippo Chips recorded a fast depletion in the retail shelves which led to a demand-supply predicament for the brand which resulted in the empty racks across more than 200,000 stores.
5 Key Lessons to Learn from Story of Hippo Chips
1.) Market Research: Success hinges on carrying out thorough market research and taking a grip on the nuances of your target audience.
Hippo Chips may have overlooked or not been able to observe evolving customer preferences, contributing to the decline in its popularity.
2.) Brand Image: Establishing an unwavering and sturdy brand image is extremely essential to foster recognition and loyalty among the consumers.
Hippo Chips might have wavered in maintaining a constant message and image, heavily impacting its ability to resonate with its target audience.
3.) Staying Relevant: An essential key for a brand to attain success is to stay attuned to the evolving trends and consumer preferences.
Sadly, Hippo Chips struggled to adapt to these gradual changes, ultimately leading to its decline.
4.) Competition: It is extremely crucial to be up-to-date and aware about any changing trends in the industry or in the competition brands regarding their strategic innovations.
Hippo Chips was unable to keep in pace with the evolutions and advancements including changing strategies employed by its well- established competitors, which resulted in the decline in its market shares.
5.) Innovation: To thrive in such a competitive snack industry, a company needs to regularly innovate and introduce new, better and unique products.
Unfortunately, Hippo Chips fell short in this criterion as well which resulted in the declined sense of enthusiasm and interest among consumers.
What exists of the much reminisced snack, Hippo Chips are the old tweets and threads, be it from the above mentioned campaign contests or as a plea from the Hippo Chips loyalists to bring them back. The story of Hippo Chips came to an unfortunate but an inevitable end due to the demand-supply issues. While we can not provide you with a taste of your childhood favorite Hippo Chips anymore, we hope this blog reminds you of a happier and simpler time!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why did Hippo chips shut down?
The wide-spread competition in the snack industry and the lack of measures taken to resolve the demand-supply issues, became the reasons for the unfortunate discontinuation of Hippo Chips.
Can I still buy hippo chips in India?
After the discontinuation of the majority favorite Hippo Chips in 2014, Hippo Chips have been completely wept off the market and are not available anywhere.
Which country made Hippo Chips?
Hippo Chips were manufactured in India by Parle Agro Private Limited (stylised as Parlé Agro).