Strategic Marketing in a New Market: Leonardo Olive Oil in India

Rajkumar Venkatesan and Gerry Yemen ,

When VN Dalmia (MBA ’84), chair of Dalmia Continental in New Delhi, decided to sell olive oil in India, he started by importing it from the Mediterranean while the company built its new olive oil brand — Leonardo — rather than take the risky tactic of making a high investment in the masses of land it would take to plant olive trees and time it would take for them to bear fruit.

Leonardo’s first product on the market was an olive oil that would work well with Indian cuisine, not designed to flavor but to cook, able to be used at high temperatures. It was also more likely to prevent heart disease than other oils.

This was a new category of product in the Indian market, and to make it one many households would adopt on an everyday basis, Leonardo’s challenge was to make its uses and benefits clear to the consumer. In order to do that and maintain the cautious, lower-investment approach, Leonardo marketed the product by educating consumers about its health benefits.

The company communicated those benefits through trade shows, joint promotions with restaurants and other partners, working with health care facilities, free samples, point-of-sale material, shelf space and in-store branding, among other strategies.

Learn more about how Leonardo analyzed, experimented and promoted its olive oil to great success in Professor Rajkumar Venkatesan and Senior Researcher Gerry Yemen’s article “Smart Business Model Helped Olive-Oil Firm Blossom in India,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.

The article is based on the case Leonardo: Indianizing Olive Oil (Darden Business Publishing), by Darden Professors Rajkumar Venkatesan and Paul W. Farris and Senior Researcher Gerry Yemen.

About the Faculty

Rajkumar Venkatesan

Venkatesan is an expert in customer relationship management, marketing metrics and analytics, and mobile marketing.

Venkatesan’s research focuses on developing customer-centric marketing strategies that provide measurable financial results. In his research, he aims to balance quantitative rigor and strategic relevance.

In 2012 Venkatesan published “Coupons Are Not Just for Cutting Prices” in... Learn More

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