As part of its localisation drive, Coca-Cola is trying to establish a closer connect with consumers in India by piloting the use of local languages in its brand. In Bengal, for instance, the firm has decided to print product names in Bengali. This way, it feels, the brand will have an emotional consumer connect.
To kick-start the initiative, Coca-Cola has rolled out Bengali packaging labels for all beverages across its portfolio which is available in West Bengal; it includes Coke, Sprite, Thums Up, Maaza, Fanta, Limca, Kinley, and Minute Maid. Each brand will devise a hyper local campaign to deepen connect and bring on-ground experience alive for consumers in West Bengal.
While the initial idea is to have a Hindi version packaging for the Hindi speaking belt, Coca-Cola is mooting the idea to roll out similar local language packaging for other states as well. “It is a mammoth task in itself. The eco-system needs to be in place and in West Bengal we have a considerable supply chain. The products with Bengali language labels will hit the market by end of March”, said T. Krishnakumar, president of Coca-Cola, India and South West Asia.
According to Krishnakumar, the roll out of localised language, reflected in its packaging, will depend on the readiness of the supply chain in each of the states.
West Bengal is the sixth or seventh largest market for Coca-Cola in India.
Despite Coca-Cola’s reach across five million outlets in the country and its focus on regionalisation, industry officials noted that local brands like Jayanti Cola, Sosyo, Runner, Bovonto and others have been effectively pushing their presence.
Last year, Coca-Cola unveiled its plan for a hyper local strategy to cater to regional aspirations and demands. Thereafter, it took its juice brand, Minute Maid, to regional markets such as Tamil Nadu, launching a grape-flavoured drink called Colours last year. Local Minute Maid juice variants are also available in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. Besides, the firm has rolled out an energy drink, Aquarius Glucocharge, in Odisha.
Krishnakumar said one of the objectives is to have some back-end presence for states which grow fruits.
On the other hand, Coca Cola is planning to roll out various products and brands, particularly in the affluent and aspiring categories to deepen its portfolio.
Coca Cola has classified its consumer base in the country into three categories — the affluent, who can afford higher prices and from whom the company can get better profitability; the mid-tier segment, largely the buyers of its existing products; and aspiring consumers, who opt for budget-friendly beverage options.
According to Coca-Cola, in terms of pricing, the affordable segment is between Rs 10 and Rs 15, followed by the mid-tier at Rs 15-Rs 25 and any product exceeding Rs 25 is for the affluent segment.
In terms of consumer base, the US multinational is of the view that around 50-60 million people will classify as the affluent class in the country followed by around 450-500 million in the mid-tier segment. The rest of the population, accounting for around 850 million, comprises the aspiring class.
“With our existing portfolio, we are well extended in the mid-tier segment. It is in the affluent and aspiring classes where we need more products,” Krishnakumar said.
In this endeavour, Coca-Cola has already introduced Smartwater as well as Schweppes, which are targeted at the affluent lot. It has also introduced the Rani Float.
As part of its product rollouts, Krishnakumar said the Smartwater and Schweppes portfolios will be expanded and more juice products in the indulgence segment are being considered. Currently, it has 65 products in India.
Coca Cola is of the view that new products will be an enabler towards its goal of making India its third-largest market globally.
The company is hopeful that it can stave off the ongoing slowdown with the sheer size of its distribution muscle, which is stretched across five million outlets in the country.