Coca-Cola treads on Baba Ramdev’s turf but tough fight for MNC in desi ayurvedic drinks

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Updated: April 9, 2019 1:00:33 PM

It is not for the first time that Coca-Cola has tried ethnic products in Indian market. Previously, it had launched a new soft drink called Colour -- a generic name given to soft drinks in Tamil Nadu.

Coca Cola, Inox multiplex, Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages, CCI, AAECIn India, Ayurvedic drinks are currently marketed by only a few companies such as Kiva and Auric along with Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali.

After expanding its profile to include more India oriented beverages such as Maaza, Coca-Cola could soon be treading on Baba Ramdev’s turf by launching Ayurvedic drinks. However, the company’s foreign profile might prove to be a hurdle in it capturing a dominant position in the market, according to an expert.

“Ayurveda delivers multiple benefits, like relaxation, better sleep… We are working on these segments,” T Krishnakumar, Chief Executive Officer of Coke’s business in India and Southwest Asia, told Bloomberg in a recent interview.

Weighing in on Coca-Cola’s probable new launch, an expert said that Ayurveda is associated with India and that may limit Coca-Cola’s ability to shake Patanjali’s position in Ayurvedic market, veteran brand consultant Harish Bijoor said.

“Ayurveda and the story-line of Ayurveda is close to a desi bred and desi born company such as Patanjali, the SriSri Ayurveda or companies of their ilk,” Harish Bijoor, Brand-expert & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc said to Financial Express Online. “When you think Ayurveda, you think India, and when you think India you think of Indian company with the ability to take it forward the best. This is where the Coca-cola story-line will jar,” Harish Bijoor said.

However, Coca-Cola may have an added advantage of not having many competitors. In India, Ayurvedic drinks are currently marketed by only a few companies such as Kiva and Auric along with Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali. If marketed well, Coca Cola may acquire a respectable position in the market. “The field is wide open. If Coca-Cola can bring in an ingredient story-line that talks of the theme of “Back to the Vedas” and the good old ways of doing things, there is merit in this offering,” Bijoor said. He added that it will be a niche market.

Whether the product should be launched in just domestic market or foreign markets as well is another question. Considering the rising craze around Ayurveda and healthy living globally, Coca-Cola may even try a hand in the foreign markets as well. “I do believe the story-line has strong potential in an overseas context, where good health is the norm. The key idea is to discover the goodness of good health once again after it has bolted, thanks to market offerings that have destroyed the very fabric of good health in their quest for volumes, popularity and profits,” Harish Bijoor said to Financial Express Online.

It is not for the first time that Coca-Cola has tried ethnic products in Indian market. Previously, it had launched a new soft drink called Colour — a generic name given to soft drinks in Tamil Nadu, with a taste that mimics Bovonto, a grape-flavoured dark soft drink that has a dominant position in the southern Indian state.

With this, Coca-Cola had probably tried to capture the local market with the expectation that “when consumers ask for a cold drink by its generic name, they would get its brand in replacement and slowly enter the consumer’s consideration set,” Chandramouli N, CEO Trust Research Advisory, had earlier told Financial Express Online.

  • First published on www.financialexpress.com on 29 March 2019.

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