Master of Business Administration
Faculty / School
Faculty of Business Administration (FBA)
Mr. Akhtar Mahmud Syed
Committee Member 1
Mr. Akhtar Mahmud Syed, Visiting Faculty, Institute of Business Administration, Karachi
MBA Research Project
Abstract / Summary
The ice cream and frozen desserts industry in Pakistan is growing at a steady pace, giving rise to innovative, disruptive ideas and new distribution channels which have collectively altered the dynamics of the industry. Within this industry, items are sold through the following channels: retail, ice cream parlors, and street selling. Our study focuses on the street selling channel, a traditional approach to selling ice cream whereby packaged brands like Wall’s, Omore, and Igloo have made their mark by introducing battery operated trikes that are functional throughout the country. For Unilever Wall’s, this channel is of utmost importance as approximately 10% of the total sales of Wall’s are contributed by this channel  and requires a specialized study in order to identify gaps and opportunities that lie for this brand.
Within this channel, Wall’s is facing immense competition from outnumbered unbranded ice cream sellers; street hawkers who sell traditional ice creams like “kulfi” and “gola ganda” and there is little to no statistics about their market size, selling practices, target customers, and what influences customers to purchase from them. There is also a lack of clarity with regards to the selling practices of Wall’s trikes and what influences customers to purchase from a Wall’s trike.
Therefore, this study aims to study and compare the selling practices between Wall’s trikes and unbranded ice cream sellers and the purchasing behavior of both types of customers to identify the gaps and issues faced by Wall’s in this channel and where they should be making improvements in the current 6 Ps of this trike channel in order to further strengthen its market leader position.
Our research adopted a mixed method approach whereby we first conducted secondary research (literature review) to learn about sellers and consumer purchase behavior in this mobile channel and then primary data collection was divided into two phases, the seller study and the consumer study.
In the seller study, first in-depth interviews were conducted with Wall’s trike sellers and unbranded ice cream sellers in different areas within Karachi and then survey questionnaires were carried out with both types of sellers to verify the insights gained. It is clear that the seller study required an immense amount of field work in order to converse with the sellers and gain insights on their selling practices. However, fieldwork was halted mid-way due to the imposition of lockdown in various parts of the city to control the spread of COVID-19.
In our consumer study, we were also able to generate interesting insights and findings through interviews and questionnaires. We asked mothers about the factors which influence their purchase intention towards ice cream from the streets and these factors were: convenience, variety of flavors, product quality, hygiene and cleanliness, taste, and price. Mothers mentioned that they prefer Wall’s because it has better quality, taste, has a variety of flavors and is hygienic compared to unbranded ice cream, and those who preferred unbranded ice cream said that it is because it is low priced, has a natural and unique flavor, and is easily available as compared to Wall’s. Survey results confirmed the in-depth results and revealed that purchase frequency for Wall’s trikes is once a month while unbranded ice cream is bought more frequently i.e. once a week. Purchase location and time was found same for both i.e. neighborhood, and between 4:01 to 8:00 PM time. Regression analysis on SPSS revealed that factors of hygiene, price, convenience and service quality strongly influence the purchase intention of Wall’s ice cream. While taste, hygiene, convenience and service quality strongly influence unbranded ice cream purchase intention. Mothers also highlighted their concerns towards Wall’s. Their concerns were that Wall’s trikes usually had ice cream shortages, the product was sometimes in a melted state, deformed or squished, if the product was melted the ink of packaging leaked into the product and prices on placards were often raised or faded.
The recommendations that we have given after performing the required research are based on direct feedback given by Wall’s trike sellers, suggestions given by mothers and based on the SPSS analysis. The recommendations given by Wall’s trike sellers included: the company should bring back brands Fruitifire and Zapper, address the issue of stock outs, introduce low priced variants like Igloo’s Mama Mia, introduce a commission-based pay program for sellers, and add a strawberry flavor in cups. Mothers recommended that new flavors to be introduced, seasonal flavors like lychee, pomegranate, bubble gum and more chocolate variants, new shapes like cartoon shaped products must be introduced, smaller SKUs of products like Magnum should be introduced, toppings and syrups must be added in the trike in order to increase customization, and the live process of making ice cream should be shown to ensure cleanliness.
Based on our SPSS results, service quality is the most important factor which influences purchase intention in this channel. Therefore, we believe that it is important to provide soft skills training to the trike sellers so that they can engage with customers in a professional manner, improve their communication skills and selling skills so that they can be more profitable and increase sales for the brand. Special attention must be paid to hygiene, especially after the prevalence of COVID-19. Masks, gloves and hand sanitizers must be distributed to trike sellers and all of them must be in their uniforms. Furthermore, a dedicated team should visit SPDs and arrange regular meetings with sellers so that their feedback can be taken and complains can be addressed in a timely manner. Trike maintenance issues should be dealt with, and each seller should be given a monthly maintenance expense for trikes so that they don’t have to pay from their pockets. The trike design should also be altered, making it more robust and easy to control. An umbrella should be added in the trike for the ease of the seller and customer during the hot summer months. In order to increase convenience, the Munchies App can be linked with the trikes channel and orders placed through the app can be delivered by these trike sellers.
Lastly, there are certain limitations which need to be addressed. Firstly, this study was based in Karachi, therefore, the results may not be similar in other parts of the country. This study can further be implemented in other cities in order to gauge insights from trike sellers throughout the country. Secondly, the unavailability of routes and difficulties in covering certain low-lying areas are also a limitation in this study. Lastly, the onset of COVID-19 resulted in a nation-wide lockdown, therefore field work had to be halted mid-way, which was an important part of the research considering the nature of this project.
 Based on the information shared by client during initial interview
Gul, A., Mansur, F., Kapadia, H., Nadir, M., Khan, R., & Aly, Z. (2020). An analysis of trikes in the Icecream and frozen dessert market in Pakistan (Unpublished graduate research project). Institute of Business Administration, Pakistan. Retrieved from https://ir.iba.edu.pk/research-projects-mba/14
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