Beverage makers, including arch rivals PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, are set to fight out this summer with the launch of new products and campaigns to grab a share of the $10 billion Indian market.
The soft drinks industry in India is growing at 6-7 per cent per annum, says the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. Yet, per capita consumption of in India is 5-6 bottles (same as Nepal's) compared to Pakistan's 17 and Sri Lanka's 21.
PepsiCo, which has started the new year with some product-centric innovations and big brand campaigns, has already launched two new flavours of its soft drink Mirinda - Orange Masala and Orange Mango.
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"Through this unique local palette-led innovation, we expect to drive consumption frequency and penetration," Deepika Warrier, executive director, marketing, PepsiCo Beverages, India, told IANS.
"We have launched innovative and consumer-focussed initiatives to drive consumption. We are also investing heavily in expanding distribution and have created a state of the art, segmented G2M strategy based on three filters - portfolio class, town class and outlet class," Warrier added.
Warrier refused to comment on the ad spend, but said PepsiCo is spending on 360 degree campaigns designed around all their brands. The firm has also started a new campaign, Change the Game - from cricket to football after the Indian team's dismal show in England and Australia.
Other players have taken the health route to lure customers.
Cadbury India, part of US-based Kraft Foods, has launched Tang Mango focussing on the drink's nutritional value.
"Tang has yummy fruit flavours and is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals - thereby balancing refreshing goodness for the kids," said Narayan Sundararaman, director, powdered beverages, Gum and Candy, Kraft Foods.
The firm is also working on a range of flavours to suit local tastes. "The focus will also be on sampling for consumer awareness and trial generation."
Both players and industry watchers expect the market to explode in the years to come, given the country's young demographics and rising affluence. They say new drinks in the industry - energy drinks, flavoured water, sports drink, mixture of dairy and juice - are all coming up because people want them.
Also, there is a cultural shift. Consumers want to buy beverages rather than prepare these on their own.
And that's why companies are working towards expanding the category and promoting them with nice packaging and subliminal advertising. The is also an effort at getting first-time consumers with lower price points, especially in rural areas.
Pepsi's rival Coca-Cola has gone ahead to say that all its beverages are healthy and can be had as a part of a balanced lifestyle.
"All our beverages are healthy and can be had as a part of a balanced lifestyle. We continue to offer choices to our consumers in both sparkling as well as still category," said a Cola-Cola spokesperson.
In the juices segment, the company recently launched the range of Minute Maid 100 per cent juices which suitably complements our portfolio of juice drinks - Maaza, Minute Maid Pulpy Orange and Minute Maid Nimbu Fresh.
"From a consumer's perspective, our strategy continues to be that of offering a range of products in different packs at varying price points, as per the occasion, brand, price, pack, and channel model," the spokesperson said.
India figures among the Atlanta-based multinational's top 10 markets. It has announced plans to invest $2 billion over the next five years starting 2012 to further capture the opportunity in the Indian non-alcoholic, ready-to-drink beverage market.
Home grown Rasna is up to setting up a subsidiary, Rasna Beverages, to make high margin ready-to-drink products like energy drinks, fortified water and premium fruit juices in collaboration with global firms.
With inputs from IANS