The launch of Campa-Cola is right not just from the season point of view but also because the heat of inflation has bur...
- Campa is targeting the growing market of downtraders by pricing its soft drinks attractively.
- When you are drinking a cola, you are not just consuming a soft drink, you are consuming a branded experience, says Ambi Parameswaran, branding guru and author.
- Campa has to get its distribution right and match the width of distribution that other colas have today, says Harish Bijoor, branding expert.
The launch of Campa-Cola is right not just from the season point of view but also because the heat of inflation has burned a hole in the pockets of Indians. In the last six months, many Indians, both rural and urban, have been hit by high inflation and have been downtrading – that’s shifting to cheaper brands or even going for unbranded products.
The FMCG market is in the most price-sensitive state it has even been in the last few years. Campa is targeting this growing market of downtraders, at a price that’s almost half of what other cola brands offer.
“Yes, it caters to this trend,” agrees Harish Bijoor, founder of a consultancy firm, Harish Bijoor Consults, adding, “There is relevance for a lower-priced cola – a local cola with a friendly price versus an MNC cola with MNC prices.”
“Penetration pricing can boost Campa’s traction among the price-sensitive Indian masses, especially in the rural markets. The aggressive pricing will magnify the impact of the relaunch amid the cost-of-living crisis, as 68% of Indian consumers are extremely concerned about the impact of inflation on their household budget,” says Bobby Verghese, consumer analyst at GlobalData.
Price matters, but brand matters too
Ambi Parameswaran, branding guru, author, and the former head of FCB Ulka, however, believes that it’s hard to beat established brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi with a pricing strategy alone.
“When you are drinking a cola, you are not just consuming a soft drink, you are consuming a branded experience. There have always been lower priced and local colas in the market but they found limited success. They (Reliance) will have to bring in celebrities and invest big money in marketing,” he adds.
Reliance has launched Campa across three different flavours – cola, lemon and orange — which covers the entire gamut of soft drinks. “They launched one unified brand across flavours and that might work,” opines Parameswaran.
Reliance also went with the slogan ‘The Great Indian Taste’ as it relaunched an iconic brand Campa which was once competitor to Parle’s Goldspot, Thums Up and Limca – the last two ended in the kitty of Coca-Cola, which made its comeback in the ‘90s. Campa, however, could not withstand the growing competition of Pepsi and Coca-Cola, and shut shop in 2000-01.
After it was acquired in August last year, it’s Campa that now has a moneyed backer with marketing muscle and a giant retail footprint of 17,225 stores, offline. Reliance also retails groceries and more online and launched sales via WhatsApp six months back. It also owns a stake in Dunzo – a quick commerce retailer.
“Reliance can also leverage its own offline retail and e-commerce stores to quickly narrow the gap with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo’s nationwide distribution networks and bolster Campa’s market penetration. In terms of pricing, Reliance Consumer can go toe-to-toe with multinational operators,” said Francis Gabriel Godad, business development manager, GlobalData India.
Where is the footprint?
Yet, the cola market is like no other FMCG brand. With the need for refrigeration and a rock solid distribution channel that Coca-Cola and Pepsi have built for years – this might be a tough act to follow if not break.
“It’s not just pricing. They have to get distribution right and match the width of distribution that other colas have today. Colas retail differently – most of them are sold out of kirana stores, dhabas and others,” explained Bijoor.
Reliance Retail’s footprint can drive the sales of large soda packages. “At home consumption only contributes to 20% of cola sales. The rest is purchased on-the-go,” says Parameswaran.
Moreover, Pepsi and Coca-Cola have built their empires on the theory of exclusivity. For example, McDonald’s retails Coca-Cola (only) at its outlets and Burger King goes with Pepsi. In India, these brands have ‘owned’ dhabas and small-time restaurants where either of the brands’ products are retailed extensively. Since this is where most Indians eat, it also helped them make colas a part of Indian meals which matches with biryanis as easily as it does with burgers.
Thanks to extensive marketing campaigns, they penetrated rural markets, killed local goli soda businesses and have become the ‘thanda’ of choice.
Colas and cricket
The third dimension of the cola business after price and distribution, is the ‘taste’. Even today, Thums Up is perceived as the ‘strong’ cola, with the other two colas close behind.
Bijoor and Parameswaran say that with colas, it’s more about the brand than the taste and few people can recognize cola brands in a blind tasting. Yet, consumers tend to buy the brand they feel they like the most.
Godad says that Campa can build a similar recall as it announced plans to launch an intensive marketing campaign at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 – the cricket tournament with a viewership of over 200 million.
This too is a page out of Pepsi’s playbook which has had popular brand ambassadors among cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and more. At one point in time, it even engaged almost all of the Indian cricket squad to the 2003 world cup in South Africa including Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Harbhajan Singh and more in its ads. Reliance Consumer intends to bring similar energy into its marketing.
“Reliance’s branding activity during the (IPL) event will thereby amplify Campa’s mass-market awareness in the cricket-loving nation. Moreover, as the official sponsor of the popular ‘Mumbai Indians’ IPL team, Reliance Group can rope in popular cricketers as brand ambassadors. This is a powerful marketing strategy given that endorsements by celebrities or organizations are an essential feature that 29% of Indians actively look for when purchasing products, according to GlobalData’s 2022 survey,” says Godad.
In addition to all, Reliance is also not building a ‘new brand’ either, it is bringing back an old brand with nostalgia value that still rings a bell with Gen Xers and millennials — that’ll send at least a few to try a brand they once loved.
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