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The simmering war of cooling brands!

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With the sweaty and sultry summers all set to arrive, beverage marketers are also rolling up their sleeves to lure the consumers. And this time, Bollywood seems to be the flavour of the season for this category.

Sprinkling stardust
There is an evergreen charm to celebrity endorsements as they never run out of vogue for brands particularly in the Indian beverages industry. Bollywood celebs as brand ambassadors still manage to push sales for products and if utilised effectively, can provide the cutting edge for the brand. This is precisely why 2012 is witnessing various players from the beverages industry jumping into the celebrity endorsement brandwagon more aggressively. For instance, from the PepsiCo stable Pepsi is back with Ranbeer Kapoor, while 7UP has taken forward its association with Sharman Joshi as part of its new brand positioning. Others from Coca-Cola, Parle Agro and even age old brands like Rasna are adding star power to their offerings. Additionally, there is a strong preference for tinsel town’s newcomers, a deliberate marketing attempt to strengthen bond with youngsters who are the prime consumers of sweetened carbonated beverages.

Some players are even using celebrity ambassadors as a tool to revive consumer interest in a failing brand and adapt to changes in consumer needs. Rasna, a generic name for soft drink concentrates that became dormant with increasing tilt towards healthy drinks by consumers, too has joined the celebrity race by roping in actress Genelia D’Souza to lure adolescents. Rasna’s Chairman and Managing Director Piruz Khambatta, feels, “Genelia’s charisma resonates perfectly with our brand. Youth relate with her girl next door image, which will help us to reach the young generation in a fun and effectual way. She is the perfect choice for being a face for Rasna.” Moreover the company claims to have reformulated and fortified its Fruit Fun range with healthier constituents to suit the changing preferences of consumers.

Nadia Chauhan

Nadia Chauhan, Joint Managing Director & CMO, Parle Agro

On similar lines, Parle Agro roped in Saif Ali Khan to add some extra zing to its fizzling out brand Appy Fizz. This is also the first time Appy Fizz has taken a celebrity on board as Nadia Chauhan, Joint Managing Director & CMO, Parle Agro adds, “Saif Ali Khan is a great youth icon who loves his work as much as his life. The actor brings in the cool quotient to Appy Fizz’s friends circle, and both together complement each other and make a very entertaining duo. We’re sure the two will make a winning pair.” Looking back at the actor’s association with brands such as Lay’s Chips and Taj Mahal tea, there is hope for a credible celebrity-brand match before the young Indian consumer.

However, certain brands like Mirinda and Slice are continuing their association with tinsel town celebrities Asin and Katrina Kaif, respectively, as part of their comprehensive brand building process.


Positioning and communication

One of the most common trends among beverage brands has been the attempt to reconnect with their TG with improved positioning and communication strategy. Lemon based fizz drinks such as Sprite (from Coca-Cola) and 7UP (PepsiCo) have seen some freshening up of the brand positioning.

Ruchira Jaitly

Ruchira Jaitly, Executive Vice President – Marketing, Beverages (Flavours), PepsiCo India,

Having failed to make an impression with ‘Gussa Hatao, Chill Machao’ (last year), PepsiCo’s lemon flavoured drink, 7UP and sub-brand Nimbooz has got a new positioning – ‘Dil Bole I Feel Up’. The new positioning symbolises optimism of Indians and hence the word ‘UPtimism’.

Speaking on the new positioning, Ruchira Jaitly, Executive Vice President – Marketing, Beverages (Flavours), PepsiCo India, shares, “We Indians are unputdownable and our optimism or UPtimism helps us stay motivated in any situation. At 7UP, we salute that with our new positioning.” Moreover, the brand has also unveiled a new packaging for both 7UP and Nimbooz.

Anupama Ahluwalia

Anupama Ahluwalia, Vice President – Marketing, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia

Sprite, on the other hand has taken its successful ‘Fresh Minds Think Better’ campaign to the next level, with a new communication ‘Rasta Clear Hai’. The new communication focuses on building a stronger connect with the youth. According to Anupama Ahluwalia, Vice President – Marketing, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, “Being synonymous with a no-nonsense, honest and cut-through attitude, brand Sprite has been successfully inspiring teenagers to think fresh even when the odds are stacked up against them and find a solution. Through the ‘Rasta Clear Hai’ campaign, we wish to further induct a new batch of fresh thinkers and celebrate their ingenuity.” Sprite will be taking this positioning further with a 360 degree campaign including television ads, outdoor, radio, on-ground activation and social media.

While the lemon fizz drinks focus on new positioning, the orange fizz drinks have taken a step further to launch new flavours. Mirinda from PepsiCo’s stable has introduced two new local flavours – Orange Mango and Orange Masala.  Speaking about the new product, Jaitly, from PepsiCo India, says, “Mirinda has always stood for great bold taste that unleashes pagalpanti (craziness). Taking the promise forward, we are multiplying the excitement further by innovating with products that appeal to the Indian palette.” On the other hand, Coco-Cola’s orange Fizz drink Fanta launched a new campaign focused around a fun theme that highlights its positioning as the ‘Taste That Makes You Bounce’.

Time to play
Association with sports especially cricket has always been a favourite marketing tool of beverage brands. But this summer, there is a twist with Pepsi launching its first football campaign Pepsi T20 Football. Winners of this nationwide tournament will get a chance to play football, Pepsi T20 way, against the Indian cricket stars. Also, the winners will get an opportunity to be coached by an international football star. The campaign kick-starts with a football themed ad film featuring, Ranbir Kapoor.

Homi Battiwalla

Homi Battiwalla, Category Director - Colas, Hydration & Mango Based Beverages, PepsiCo India

Homi Battiwalla, Category Director – Colas, Hydration & Mango Based Beverages, PepsiCo India, adds, “Pepsi T20 Football tournament takes forward the philosophy of Change the Game by taking football outside the conventional domain and giving it a refreshing twist. It is a unique grassroots initiative mounted at a never before scale in India that aims to take the excitement around the sport to the next level.”  With the involvement of Indian cricketers, Bollywood and an international football star; the initiative can excite and engage not only the existing passionate football fans but also the non-football fans, much in the IPL fashion.

Coca-Cola’s Sprite, on the other hand, is focusing on cricket and taking its ‘Sprite Gully Cricket Champs’ initiative in its fifth season.  Sprite Gully Cricket activation will happen in 120 cities across the country this year.

The cliché way
While brands like Pepsi and 7UP from PepsiCo have been bold and experimenting this summer, mango drink ‘Slice’ from the same company has preferred to stick to the age old formula of treasure hunting. It launched an interactive promotion, ‘Katrina Ka Number, Crown Ke Under’, with the same old story: Consumers need to call on the number and lucky ones can win a date with Katrina Kaif or win collectible Slice merchandise and personalised digital wallpaper.

Moolah wars
Price wars, which once dominated the cola category, seem to be coming back in fashion with Coca-Cola slashing price of its 200 ml bottle by Rs 2 making them available for Rs 8 now. The company’s strategy is to attract new consumers into the cola segment with this. It is leveraging its distribution to build on this consumer proposition. This may encourage other players to follow suit.

That said, certainly, it seems, this summer is going to be quite hot for beverage marketers!

About the author / 

Abhinav Mohapatra

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