Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Jun 22, 2002
Marketing - Strategy
Cola MNCs take fizz to traffic junctions
NEW DELHI, June 21
YOU have probably purchased newspapers, magazines, toys, tissue paper, pens and even dusters at traffic crossings. Now how about some branded bottled water and soft drinks?
This season, soft drink majors Coca-Cola India and PepsiCo India have embarked upon a distribution strategy that involves pushing their beverage brands at traffic crossings as well. While the market leader in the Rs 1,000-crore bottled water market - Bisleri - has been pushing its brand at traffic crossings, especially in Mumbai, for a couple of years now, the exercise is the first for the multinational soft drink majors.
Coca-Cola India has been distributing its Kinley brand of water in 500-ml PET bottles at traffic crossings in Mumbai for a while now, the company's spokesperson told Business Line. "However, we have not planned a similar exercise for our CSD brands yet," he added.
Pepsi India has initiated the exercise of distributing 500-ml PET bottles of Aquafina bottled water, besides its carbonated beverages Pepsi cola, Pepsi A-ha, Mirinda Orange and Mirinda Lemon in cans and PET bottles, at major traffic intersections in Mumbai and Delhi, to begin with. "The objective is to service consumers, even when they are on the move," Pepsi India's spokesperson said.
Typically, the logistics work out in a way that the distributors themselves employ hawkers of bottled water and soft drinks. The hawkers, in turn, are provided with chiller bags to ensure that the beverages remain cold.
While the growth in the Rs 5,000-crore carbonated soft drinks (CSD) industry remained by and large sluggish last year, both soft drink companies have been claiming healthier growth rates this season. While last year the CSD market grew only by 7-8 per cent nationally; category growth has been in double digits so far.
The cola majors attribute this to a national-level rollout of 200-ml CSD bottles at price points ranging between Rs 5 and Rs 7 and driving home consumption by paring prices of CSDs in PET bottles.
While volumes generated from sales at traffic signals remain insignificant, analysts tracking the FMCG sector point out that since sales of CSDs continue to be below expectations, soft drink companies are resorting to different methods to drive sales.
"If ice-cream brands can thrive on sales through push carts, why not bottled water and soft drink brands," one analyst pointed out.
The bottled water market, meanwhile, is growing at about 25-30 per cent.
While Bisleri's share has slipped in recent months, it remains the market leader with a 37 per cent share.
Kinley's current market share is estimated at 30.8 per cent, followed by Aquafina with an 11.5 per cent share, according to ORG data.
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