Coke & Pepsi to sizzle summer with more drinks

22 Feb,2012

By: Ratna Bhushan


Forget the Cola war; Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are heading for a high-pitched battle in the flavoured soft drinks segment this summer.


Soon after reviving lemon drink Citra, Coca-Cola has decided to give fresh lease of life to orange drink Crush and tonic water Schweppes, said an industry official aware of the development.


Rival PepsiCo, which has rolled out two variants of orange drink Mirinda and revived lemon drink Duke’s after a seven-year hiatus, plans to launch more flavours under its clear-lime brand 7Up, said trade insiders.


Both are responding to the changes in consumption patterns in India’s Rs13,000-crore soft drinks market, said experts. “Flavours are growing faster than colas…heightened focus is recognition of the demand,” said Ravi Jaipuria, PepsiCo’s biggest bottler in South Asia.


Crush For the Masses

Coca-Cola plans to revive Crush and Schweppes, which it bought along with clear lemon Canada Dry as part of a global acquisition of Cadbury Schweppes soft drink business in 1999. Crush, like Citra, may target the low-income group with a lower price tag than Coca-Cola’s own Fanta orange drink, said an official familiar with the development. “That way, both brands can co-exist.”


Schweppes tonic water and premium soda will be taken national across more than 10,000 outlets, and will be packaged in cans, the official says. Currently, Schweppes is available only in non-returnable glass bottles in a few restaurant channels and select modern trade stores.


A Coca-Cola spokesman declined comment on the forthcoming launches of Crush and Schweppes, but said: “A combination of our ‘occasion, brand, pack, price, channel’ architecture along with brand activation plans and route to market focus will help us capitalise on the existing opportunity in the flavours segment.”


Coca-Cola is already in the process of reviving Citra, which it had acquired from Ramesh Chauhan two decades ago, priced about 20 per cent cheaper than existing lime lemon drinks, Sprite and Limca, mainly to fight smaller regional B-brands.


Unprecedented Rush

Devendra Chawla, president of food and FMCG businesses at the country’s largest retailer Future Group, said launch of so many flavours and brands in one season is unprecedented in the industry. “While there would be some casualties among these by end-season, it’s good for the industry as India’s share of throat of soft drinks is minuscule; this engagement will grow consumption,” he added.


Some experts say that a key factor that helped flavours outgrow colas is the widespread belief among Indian consumers that flavoured soft drinks are less harmful to the body than colas.


Ruchira Jaitley, PepsiCo’s executive VP marketing, beverages (flavours), said flavours are growing in high double digits, without sharing exact numbers.


But surprisingly, the new Mirinda flavours will be around only for three months and go off the shelves before peak season of May-June.


Late last year, PepsiCo had relaunched its age-old Duke’s range of beverages, mainly as a regional brand in Mumbai, in lemon, raspberry and gingerale variants. It bought Duke & Sons in 1995. The rush for flavours is in the packaged juice segment as well.


Source:The Economic Times
Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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