Appy: Fizz-ling out?

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Andy Gawthrope, Global Sales Director, Aston Martin

In a major shift in its communication strategy, the aerated apple beverage Appy Fizz, from the Parle Agro family, has signed on Bollywood celebrity Saif Ali Khan to star in their latest television campaign. This is first of sorts since the bottle was the prime hero of all brand campaigns until now.

While the apple drink’s witty advertising has been a hit with the young target audience; the brand has lagged behind in replicating the success story of Parle Agro’s flagship brand, Frooti. Pitch finds out why…

New kid on the block
In a space dominated by a plethora of soft drinks on one hand and fruit beverages on the other, Appy Fizz managed to break through the clutter. Launched in 2005, it differed from the existing fruit based carbonated drinks and positioned itself as a carbonated drink prepared from apple juice.  With no other challenger in the market during its inception, it enjoyed a monopoly status. It promised to provide ‘value for money’ to the health conscious customers looking beyond the artificially flavoured drinks bereft of any fruit ingredients.

The packaging, which was similar to a champagne bottle, too helped in creating good brand recall. Moreover, the walking-talking bottle, its witty one- liners, and its positioning as a ‘Cool Drink to Hang out With’ captured the attention of its target audience. Parle Agro also positioned it as a premium drink that was priced higher than fruit juices and lower than alcoholic beverages. In 2007- 2008, the company took its innovative branding approach a notch higher by enhancing the premium look of the Appy Fizz PET bottle and filling it with facts, trivia and graphics. Despite all the efforts, the product, particularly the taste of the drink, could not find many takers in the market.

Is the positioning right?
Has this formula worked well for the brand in being able to carve out its own niche space in the fiercely competitive non-alcoholic beverage space? Or is it one amongst the crowd?

Peshwa Acharya, Chief Marketing Officer & Director, Globacom

Peshwa Acharya, Chief Marketing Officer & Director, Globacom, is of the view that Appy Fizz has faltered with its positioning. “Unfortunately, this product is getting sandwiched between the healthier fruit juices on one hand and the more sexy alcoholic beverages on the other. It has not been able to create this ‘in-between’ beverage position. The food category for instance has seen the emergence of a new category of ‘healthy snacks’ that stands between fried snacks and namkeen. Appy Fizz has not been able to do the same,” opines Acharya.

It is this ambiguity that has perhaps resulted in a limited customer base for this cool, trendy apple drink. Adding further, Acharya feels that a better positioning of the drink would have been as a non alcoholic beverage for adults. “Instead of focusing on the youth, Appy Fizz should have targeted the mature audience, the ones who do not consume champagne, beer or other alcohol beverages and so would happily settle in for similar looking and a similar tasting option,” he says.

Taste test
The champagne like bottle, the golden colour of the drink, and its wine like taste do indeed make it a perfect party drink for ‘teetotallers’. Though the brand did succeed in grabbing some eyeballs in the initial phase, another reason for the lack of sustained growth could be its flavour.  Apple flavour is perceived to be less popular compared to orange, mango, lemon, pineapple and figures lowest in the hierarchy.

Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultant

Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultant, echoes similar concerns. “Apple is a classy drink and has a certain upscale image. An apple based drink would serve only a niche, high end segment of customers and that is the audience, which Appy Fizz should cater to. And with the recently launched trendy, modern and contemporary campaign featuring Saif Ali Khan, it will be able to connect with this segment and increase the consumption of the drink,” he opines.

Star power
The series of three television campaigns by the Nawab of Pataudi, which have come after a two year hiatus, are an attempt to up the ‘cool quotient’ of the drink. Parle Agro has also used the occasion to introduce Appy Fizz in 300ml packs at a price of Rs 15, a reduction by Rs 3 on the earlier price.

Nadia Chauhan, Joint Managing Director & CMO, Parle Agro

“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,” says Nadia Chauhan, Joint Managing Director & CMO, Parle Agro.

Acharya though shares a differing opinion. He feels that bringing Saif Ali Khan on board will not provide the needed pull and bringing in a younger celebrity to endorse Appy Fizz would have done the trick. At a time when the non-alcoholic beverage industry in India is growing at a phenomenal rate, a rejig of the drink’s positioning and TG will certainly help in increasing its market share. According to a recent study on the Opportunities in the Indian Non-Alcoholic Beverage Market by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the non-alcoholic beverage market in India is likely to touch the Rs 11,000 crore mark by 2015. Growing at a CAGR of over 20 percent, this sector currently stands stands over Rs 6,000 crore.

Thus with the scorching summer heat set to spur demand for thirst quenchers, all beverage companies will be pushing for aggressive marketing and distribution strategies. Parle Agro will also be spending heavily on BTL activities, digital initiatives, and marketing campaigns this summer season. But whether Appy Fizz will succeed in jumping off the refrigerators and vending machines into the hands of consumers as their preferred choice of beverage this summer remains to be seen.

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