The size of soft-drinks industry in India has
been estimated upwards of Rs 50 bn.
The MNCs like Coke and Pepsi, dominate the
Indian market having a total combined share of
95%(approx.) and rest are acquainted by local
There are more than hundreds soft-drink
producing industry, majority are Indian
The Industry employs nearly 125,000 people
and contributes to govts. Kitty through exports.
Soft-drinks market comprises of two distinct
a. Cola drinks
b. Non-Cola drinks
The per capita consumption of soft drinks in
India remains low at around 5-6 bottles per
year, that matched that of Nepals, far exceeded
by; Pakistan’s figure of 17 bottles, Thailand’s
73, Srilanka’s 21, Philippine’s 173 and Mexico’s
The soft drinks industries also create
opportunities for growth of related ancillary
a. Glass bottling
b. PET bottles
The industry has been protesting against the
relatively high excise duty and taxes, imposed
by the government.
The industry stated that a decrease in such tax
would increase the size of the market
Cola-Cola and Pepsi were both affected when
residues of pesticide were found in some of
their product by CSE, that stated the presence
of 5 different pesticides which were as much as
24 times higher than the norms of BIS.
Coca-Cola, a multinational soft-drinks
manufacturer originally began to retail in 1886.
Expanded through acquisitions of Gold spot,
Limca, Thumps Up, etc during 1990s.
After re-entry in India, in 1993, the company
made ‘significant investments’, including new
production facilities, waste water treatment
plants, distribution systems and marketing
The company had invested 1 bn USD in India
in the first 10 years after 1993. The total
investment is recently estimated to be 1.2 bn
Coca-Cola today provides employment to
nearly 6000 people and indirectly to a large
number, estimated to as much as 125,000
through activities such as transportation,
procurement, sales and distribution.
Coca-Cola’s brands in the country include
Coca-Cola, Thumps Up, Sprite, Fanta, Limca,
Maaza, Minute Maid Pulpy Orange, Kinley,
After operating for a few years in the country, the
company realized that most of its products were
sold mainly in the urban markets, with rural
having extremely low penetration rates. However,
the people in rural areas did have purchasing
power, when taken in the aggregate. Although
the rural market offered huge potential, it was not
easy to penetrate. These were several issues:
Changes in distribution method. Poor rural
roads resulted in significantly higher breakages
of the glass bottles than in urban areas.
In some areas, markets were simply
inaccessible due to the absence of roads. Roads
were simply washed away during the monsoon
season or did not even exist in certain areas.
People preferred to consume soft drinks that
were refrigerated. However, many rural
shopkeepers did not have refrigerators. Long
power cuts posed the challenge.
The market for soft drinks was seasonal.
The presence of alternatives such as sugarcane
juice, butter milk and local drinks such as banta
in rural areas meant that Coca-Cola had
significant local competition. For example,
nimbu paani reportedly commands half of the
total market share in the unpackaged juices
Rural consumers were notoriously price and
The usual marketing campaigns would have to
be tweaked for rural consumers. While they
did have some purchasing power, they were
perhaps not suave enough to appreciate
subtleties in advertisements. A rapport with
customers needed to be established by
portraying the image of a common man’s
Acording to MoFPI, the demand was 105
million cases in 1990-91. This increased to 125
million cases in 1992-93 and crossed the 150
million cases mark after another couple of
The demand went up to 180 million cases in
1996-97 and breached the 200 million cases
mark for the first time in 1998-99.
By 2004-05, the milestone of the 300 million
cases were marked; and it crossed 350 million
cases marked in 2006-07.
Estimates for 2009-10 peg the demand at 400
Western region of the country accounted for
the largest share, around one-third of the total.
Northern and southern regions compete neck
to neck and they account for approximately 25
Eastern Region accounts below one-fifth of the
In terms of the market split between rural and
urban areas, the urban areas contribute around
70% of the total market share for aerated water.
Whereas, rural market remains considerably
Certain success factors were demonstrated:
Ensuring availability of the products- FMCG
companies relied on ‘push sales’. The
prerequisite was getting all the products into
the retail market in sufficient volumes.
Affordability- Price point should be
appropriate. Per capita rural incomes were low,
and soft drinks were seen as an ‘optional extra’.
Awareness: Consumers need to be made aware
of both the product and its benefits. Example,
ask for a biscuit packet, and not specific brand.
a. Ensuring availability
CCI made massive efforts to strengthen its
distribution network. It realized centralized
distribution system used in urban areas may
not be appropriate for the rural hinterland.
To reduce the transportation cost in rural areas,
company adapted its distribution model into
CCI not only changed the distribution model
but also changed the the type of vehicles used
for transportation. Now, large trucks are used to
transport bottles from bottling plants to its hubs
and smaller vehicles are used from hubs to
Company emphasised on the theme ‘going
local’, in which smaller vehicles were
purchased and used it to move the volumes in
the area where larger-sized vehicles were
Hand carts, camels and mules were used for
PET bottles as added benefit.
Getting the price right.
Presence of local brands made the competition
stiff and healthy. They did not pay tax to the
government, maintained pack size,
CCI conducted surveys, leading to some
Pack size (300ml bottles) was not appropriate.
Current pricing was too high.
Certain price points were perceived as more
convenient and affordable ( Rs 1,2,3)
Company decided to do two things:
Change the size of bottles from 300ml to 200ml.
Corresponding change in the price point.
Pricing was done of 200ml bottle at the ‘magic
prce point’ of Rs 5 ( Chota Coke)
c. Spreading awareness
New distribution and pricing strategy was
supported by a substantial marketing
campaign. This comprised of indoor and
outdoor campaigns, and company’s logo and
colour was splashed all around the market.
Large hoardings in villages, logo was painted
on many walls.
Local consumers were reached through mandis
and haats, small kiosks.
Fairs or melas proved to be extremely
important to all FMCG companies.
to Sochi: 2014
Big Game - Hourly Sentiment and Benchmarks
The company was MNC, and the mindset of
Indian consumers and NGOs, many of whom
protested against companies product, going to
the extent of publicly pouring the ‘foreign
colas’ down the drain in fornt of newsmen and
cameras during a protest.
The famous Bollywood
actor Aamir Khan was
roped in to advertise the
company’s flagship product.
The advertisement was
executed by the agency McCann Erickson and
TVC’s were directed by well known director,
Asutosh Gowariker, of movie LAGAAN.
All the commercials were set in the rural
setting and locations were complemented by
the brilliantly insightful use of word ‘Thanda’
in the campaign and the tagline ‘Thanda
If you were to go to any restaurant or local
dhaba, particularly in North India, the
attendant would generally ask you, ’Do You
Want Something Hot Or Cold?’. Thanda was
therefore akin to an umbrella word,
encompassing the alternatives such as lassi,
nimbu pani, while hot meant tea or coffee.
The idea was thus to position Coca-Cola at the
top of consumer’s mind. Hence, the tagline:
‘Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola’(Now means Coke).
In the commercials, Aamir Khan played
different roles- a restaurant attendant, a
Punjabi farmer and a Hyderabadi shopkeeper.
For example, in the Punjabi farmer commercial,
a group of young girls find themselves
stranded in the middle of some farmlands and
ask a farmer , played by Khan, for something
thanda. The farmer somehow manages to
retrieve a bottle for each of the girls from the
bottom of a well in the fields. The commercial
directly had an impact on the rural populance
because it represented both their culture and an
In another commercial, the Hyderabadi
shopkeeper conveyed his irritation at one of his
customers not knowing the words ‘thanda’ and
Coke was inextricably linked.
Additionally, the price point of Rs 5 was also
conveyed in a highly effective manner. To
make it more appropriate, Aamir Khan did the
role of a rustic, rural pan-chewing Bihari,
which threw the audience into splits of
All observers and market watchers were
unanimous in their opinion. The TVCs had
taken the country by storm and enjoyed
tremendous brand recall across the country.
Prasoon Joshi of the agency McCann Erickson
reportedly stated,’We are talking people, I
understand our tradition and it pays to make
use of regional dialects’.
Shripad Nadkarni, Vice President of Marketing
at CCI, said, ‘Prasoon has the ability to connect
to the masses through his understanding of the
Indian psyche- he thinks Indian’.
CCI’s sales from rural markets were also
reported to have increased by 35% .
Additionally, company decided to defer its
diverfication plans into iced tea, juices, nimbu
The campaign won a number of awards for
McCann. These were EFFIE, considered to be
the Oscar of Indian Advertising.
Other awards include, the Best TV Campaign
‘Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola’ at the ‘Indian
Marketing Awards’; The Campaign Of The
Year Awards presented by Advertising
Agencies Association Of India (AAAI) and
Advertising Club Mumbai (ABBY); the Golden
Lion Award at Cannes Festival and the most
prestigious marketing award of Coca-Cola
Company, the ‘Don Keogh Marketing Mastery
The global acquisition of Tropicana by Pepsi as
well as the launch of Minute Maid by Coke are
pointers to the changes scenario.
Both companies have even aimed at promoting
the sale of bottled water through their brands
Kinley (by Coca-Cola) and Aquafina (by Pepsi).
Kinley has the estimated market share of 10%
of the total packaged water.
In case of Coca-Cola, its lime drink has been
branded ‘Nimbu Fresh’, and has been pushed
in the market as ‘Ghar Jaisa’.
Coca-Cola has also aimed to push ‘Maaza’, the
mango flavoured drink it had acquired years
ago from Parle. Additionally, iced tea and
canned coffee, company was concerned about.
Meanwhile, companies are also forging new
partnerships. For example, Pepsi India tied
with HUL for adopting new technologies.
When Coca-Cola launched ‘Nimbu Fresh’, it
tied with Big Bazaar across its 180 stores for
Coca-Cola is also planning for brand
extensions like mixed-fruit version of Minute
Maid, and in 2010, company launched an
energy drink called ‘Burn’.
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