At 75, most company promoters and chief executives would think of leading a quiet retired life away from the bustle of corporate existence. Not Ramesh Chauhan, chairman, Bisleri International.
The septuagenarian, best known for creating the brands Thums Up, Limca, Gold Spot, Maaza and Citra, which he sold to Coca-Cola 20 years ago, is set to take on the big boys in beverages with his new product Urzza. The non-caffeine energy drink will be launched on September 15 across the country in 250-ml cans and 300-ml PET bottles, priced at Rs 50 each.
This is the first time an energy drink manufacturer will look at launching PET bottles. Typically, an aspirational product such as energy drinks, targeted at the young urban customer, is sold in cans to ensure its premium image is not affected. But Chauhan is clear why he is looking at PET bottles besides cans for Urzza.
“A PET bottle allows you to see the drink. It is also recyclable. This is one. Second, it aids consumption. That is because it is easy to carry plus when you have a PET bottle, which sits with other PET products in a shop. Chances are people will pick it up."
Unlike energy drinks pushed in discos, clubs, pubs, high-end traditional trade and pharmacies, Urzza will be available in all outlets, mom and pop stores, groceries, modern and high-end traditional trade. “We will leverage Bisleri's distribution system to push Urzza. We are not restricting its reach because we believe that it is very much an everyday drink,” Chauhan says.
The cola king, as he is fondly called, has a reason why he thinks Urzza is not a regular energy drink, which typically cannot be consumed by children or pregnant and lactating mothers. “Besides the absence of caffeine, there are also no stimulants such as guarana and taurine that are common in energy drinks,” he says.
"Instead, we have infused it with vitamins B and C besides other ingredients aimed at charging up the body. In fact, Urzza has been positioned as a liquid charger minus ingredients perceived as harmful to the body. This makes it more mass in its appeal. And by pricing it almost 41-44 per cent below the average price of a 250-ml can of energy drink (which comes for anywhere between Rs 85-90), we are ensuring that it is affordable," he says.
It took Chauhan five years to come up with Urzza, and given the effort put, he has set ambitious sales targets for it. “In the first year, I am looking at achieving 8 per cent of Bisleri's volume sales for Urzza and I have told my regional (sales) managers that they have to work in this direction otherwise the product will get lost within our system, forget the marketplace. Products fail not because of the consumer, but because they account for an insignificant amount of sales to justify the kind of dedication they need. I have told my managers that they have to do a minimum of 8 per cent of sales for Urzza in the first year if the product has to go anywhere.”
Like bottled water brand Bisleri, Chauhan is using a combination of company-owned outlets and franchise bottlers to produce Urzza. He declined to indicate how many have been pressed into service at the moment.
The Mumbai-based company will launch a 360-degree marketing campaign this month to promote Urzza using print, TV, radio, outdoor, digital and social media.
Mother brand Bisleri, he claims, will not be ignored because of the attention being devoted to Urzza at the moment. “Our strategy for Bisleri is to give consumers as many opportunities to consume bottled water. Two years ago, we launched a 500-ml bottle of Bisleri at Rs 10. This was intended to aid individual consumption, since a 250-ml bottle, we found was insufficient. This has helped us expand consumption. Second,I think there is room for improving in-home consumption with our 20-litre canister. It is popular, but we will be revamping the bottle in the future,” he adds.