Coca-Cola India to go on a product blitzkrieg; eyes dairy segment

Domestic soft beverage market leader Coca-Cola India is planning a product blitzkrieg from next year with at least 10 new products every year as it looks to keep pace in the dynamic beverages market in India.

“We have embarked on an incubator approach for future launches which will reduce the time taken from ideation, execution and eventual launch in the market. We will also launch products nationally and not regionally as we do now, so within 3 months every product will be available across the country,” said T Krishnakumar, President, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia.

“With this we can launch more products in a year. Against last year’s five, I hope to launch at least 10 products from this year. Eventually I want to scale it up to 25-30 products every year.”

The need for this agility is obvious. Coca-Cola has seen its overall market share in the soft drinks category come down from 35.5% in 2014 to 33.5% in 2016 as consumers have begun to turn away from carbonated beverages. It also has a sizeable presence in the fruit juices category, courtesy Maaza, but has negligible presence in the dairy category. Also, it is weak in the emerging ethnic drinks category, which experts say, is growing fast and has vast potential in India.

On Thursday, Coca-Cola ventured into new territory with Aquarius Glucocharge, a hybrid drink of glucose, essential salts and fruit juice, and Vitingo, a dilutable that tackles micronutrient deficiency and malnutrition.

“A decade ago, you would not have expected something like this from us. This is the change we are bringing about,” Krishnakumar said. “As India evolves and develops, consumer choice for beverage will change. The speed of that will be much higher than what we have been used to. So we are moving into a forecasting approach.”

The company claims it has a potential bestseller in the Glucocharge which straddles different categories and will be part of a Rs 500 crore business segment. With the Vitingo, Krishnakumar says the going will be tough as consumers would need to be educated about it.

The launches would mean the company’s reliance on colas will eventually go down. Carbonated beverages have lagged on the overall industry growth in recent times. It grew at a relatively modest 3.9% between 2011 and 2016, against an overall soft drink market growth of 9.7%.

Coca-Cola’s next big play could be in the dairy segment, which is an even bigger market at almost Rs 75,000 crore. The company has been experimenting with its Vio flavored milk in the southern parts of the country but is yet to take it national. Could it be the next in the incubator?

“We are well entrenched in three of the five beverage segments. We are not in the other two – dairy and tea/coffee. You will hear from us on that soon,” Krishnakumar says.

Care for some Coca-Cola cold coffee, anyone?businesstoday