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Coca-Cola To Uncork Portello, Relaunch Rimzim

Coca-Cola India is adding new fizz to its aerated drinks portfolio. Joining the Christmas celebrations this year will be 'Portello', a black currant flavoured drink which is very popular in Sri Lanka and 'Rimzim', the masala soda brand of the erstwhile Parle.

The national marketing strategy for the two products is currently being worked out. To begin with, both Portello and Rimzim will have local flavours, with the former being targeted especially at the southern markets, and the latter in the western markets where Rimzim took birth and emerged as a bestseller in the 1980s under Parle.

Launching regional brands could be Coca-Cola's latest strategy to arrest the sagging sales in the softdrinks market.

A senior company executive said this is only the beginning of a series of products having specific flavours, and targeted at specific consumers lined up for a launch.

Sanjiv Gupta, senior vice-president of Coca-Cola India, said: "Portello, which will be made available in returnable glass bottles, will bear a price tag of Rs 10 per 300 ml bottle. We have also decided to relaunch the masala soda brand 'Rimzim' in Maharashtra and Gujarat." Rimzim will be available in 250 ml bottles and will be priced Rs 7 per bottle, he said.

According to Gupta, the carbonated softdrink brands currently being marketed by Coca-Cola are extremely urban and there is a need and scope for launching products specifically targeted to widen the consumer base.

Analysts tracking the softdrinks industry have opined that the two softdrinks firms, Coke and Pepsi, are registering losses in India as they are unable to break the price barrier due to high taxes. Both can penetrate the untapped large rural markets if they can reduce prices.

Coca-Cola's strategy to relaunch Rimzim is aimed essentially to address the rural market.

But the company has decided to stick to the western market initially to gauge the consumer perception before taking the product national. Rimzim was an extremely popular brand in Maharashtra before it was withdrawn in the early 1990s following the acquisition of Parle's brands by Coca-Cola.

Gupta said that Coke will continue to introduce new products in the urban market as well since this market is continuously evolving. Among new products to be introduced soon are powdered soft drink concentrates, ready-to-drink tea and coffee, iced-tea, etc. Powdered softdrinks concentrate 'Sunfill', which was launched in Andhra Pradesh last week, will be taken to the rest of the country by next summer.

Coca-Cola has also reported a tremendous growth in its bottled water business during the past one year. Kinley is bottled in 14 plants across the country.

Gupta said eleven more plants will be added over the next six months, giving an indication of the company's focus on the new business. A substantial portion of their water sales is now coming from large size (25 litre) packs.

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First Published: Tue, November 27 2001. 00:00 IST