Coca-Cola, the country’s largest beverage maker, is contemplating the launch of regional water brands as it increases its bottled water bet in a market it considers key.
The move comes as India emerges the fourth-largest market for Coke’s premium water brand ‘smartwater’, launched in 2018. The regional push is also in line with the company’s hyperlocal strategy, unveiled over the past few months in India. Coca-Cola has already taken its juice brand, Minute Maid, into regional markets such as Tamil Nadu, launching a grape-flavoured drink called ‘Colours’ this year. Local Minute Maid juice variants are also available in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar, with more in the pipeline. The company has rolled out an energy drink called ‘Aquarius Glucocharge’ in Odisha.
A Coca-Cola India spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s regional bottled water plans.
Industry sources said the Rs 8,000-crore bottled water market in India has not only national brands, but also a number of regional brands that have been eating into the share of national players in recent years.
Some of the top national packaged water players include Ramesh Chauhan-led Bisleri, Coca-Cola’s Kinley and PepsiCo’s Aquafina, all mass market brands, priced between Rs 5 and Rs 20 per bottle for pack sizes varying from 250 ml to 1 litre.
On the premium side, industry sources said Coke’s ‘smartwater’, priced at Rs 50 for a 750 ml bottle, is now the second-largest premium water brand in India after ‘Himalayan’, acquired by Tata Global Beverages in 2007.
Himalayan is now part of Tata Global’s joint venture with PepsiCo called NourishCo.
Coca-Cola has been ramping up distribution of ‘smartwater’ in the last few months and proposes to take reach of the brand to 90,000 outlets by the end of this calendar year.
The brand is available across all major metros and key tier-2 markets including Goa, Pune, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Agra and Lucknow. Coca-Cola has also appointed actors Rana Daggubati and Radhika Apte as brand ambassadors of ‘smartwater’.
“On the back of strong demand for packaged water, smartwater continues to grow in India. The brand’s consumers are digitally- savvy and we have been talking to them though this medium,” the company spokesperson said.
Coca Cola is also positioning ‘smartwater’ as a lifestyle product, tying up with properties such as the Lakme Fashion Week and pushing presence at high-profile events.
“We have a disciplined approach towards growing our portfolio of premium brands. It is important to understand consumer behaviour in the (premium) segment and what they expect from a particular brand,” the spokesperson said.