Bisleri International’s chairman and MD Ramesh Chauhan believes that one has to do a good job — better than others — and one will automatically rise and become the best. The company which rules the bottled water market has marked its return into the cola space with Bisleri Pop. In conversation with BrandWagon’s Meghna Sharma, Chauhan talks about this decision, learnings from failed experiments and how the consumer is changing with time. Excerpts:
What made Bisleri re-enter the soft drinks segment? What makes Bisleri Pop stand out in the market?
Bisleri has created its own space in the Indian consumer’s mind with its good quality product, service and trust built over 50 years. The goodwill Bisleri has created with consumers is difficult for any competitor to overtake. Bisleri Pop has products with flavours which are distinct from any other drinks available in the market. They look upscale due to premium packaging but the price point is at the mass level, making it aspirational and appealing. The market is stagnated with the same old carbonated beverages. People are more open to experimenting with flavours than earlier, which gave us the courage to consider these options. Our soft drinks are youth-centric and very apt for the Indian palate. Our widespread market reach along with our strong brand reputation gives us an added advantage.
Bisleri Pop tied up with Grofers for its variants. How do you see this collaboration helping the brand? Is tying up with e-commerce/hyperlocals essential for survival today?
We are happy with our exclusive tie-up with Grofers for Bisleri Pop. We thought this was a way of getting closer to our customer. The market dynamics are changing today. People have become tech-savvy and rely on mobile devices for almost everything. Offering a delivery service for our launch was about giving our customers both convenience and connection. It cannot be denied that e-commerce and
m-commerce are catching up and such collaborations only help us further reach customers.
What are the marketing initiatives undertaken for Pop’s four variants? How much is the company spending on this and which platforms will be tapped?
The more your brand can relate to the consumer, the more comfortable she feels to choose your product. Your efforts to reach out in the most personal and direct way to the end consumer often requires your communication to be more local and culture driven. Whether it is the communication, campaign or an offer, a local touch always helps in creating better positioning of the brand in the consumer’s mind.
Presently, we are focussing more on digital and BTL activities, which include activations like college festivals and mall activities, event tie-ups, canter activities, outdoor, social and digital media. We have invested heavily in our digital space to capture the imagination of the youth.
Bisleri had forayed in the energy drinks segment with Urzza, two years ago. How has that experiment worked for the company?
We have had our learnings from Urzza. It did not perform as planned. We have put our power drink brand Urzza on the backburner since the past few months.
Currently, we are focussing more on the soft drinks range and we do not have plans of expanding into the fortified functional beverages segment. Beverage companies over time have innovated in terms of packaging and pricing to capture the rural market.
How have bottled water majors stepped up their game to target rural areas over the years?
We need not go to the rural market. There is a huge market and demand in cities itself. We just need to meet these demands well.
A number of healthier options have entered the market apart from fruit-based drinks. Does that impact the bottled-water business?
History speaks that many brands come and an equal number goes back as a part of the revolving doors trend of business. Even with the rise of new players in various segments, water still remains the necessity and can never have any competition. The need for water stays high throughout the year. There is surely a peak during summers but if trends are to be noticed, there is a rise in monsoons also due to the unavailability of safe water and during winters too, as it is the festive season. Fruit-based drinks and bottled water are completely different businesses and markets — it cannot impact packaged water business.
What are the challenges faced and what needs to be done to take the bottled water segment ahead?
The bottled water industry in India witnessed a boom in the late 1990s soon after we launched packaged drinking water in the country. There seems to be room for all and a few more, too. The water business is huge and is going to get much larger. Road congestion and cost of transportation are the challenges to be taken care of.