Feature

An unquenchable thirst

After a forgettable outing in the energy drinks space, Ramesh Chauhan is now trying to get back into soft drinks. Will he be lucky this time around?  

Soumik Kar

Life has come full circle for Ramesh Chauhan, chairman, Bisleri International, and creator of iconic brands such as Limca, Maaza and Thums Up. After exiting the carbonated beverages business by selling his portfolio to Coca-Cola in 1993, the industry veteran is heading back to his soft drink roots with his latest offering Bisleri Pop. However, Chauhan harbours no illusions about the mammoth task ahead of him: breaking into the Rs.20,000-crore carbonated beverages business, where business growth has been unimpressive. According to Euromonitor, the carbonated beverages category is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5% between 2013 and 2018, compared with 18% for juices and 9% for sports and energy drinks. The category is also largely dominated by global giants. “Coke and Pepsi together control more than 95% of the market and have successfully prevented new entrants from capturing market share by employing huge marketing spends. Bisleri will find it difficult to break into this market,” says an industry expert. 

“The carbonated beverages category is going down. That is true,” admits Chauhan. “But I feel that consumers want variety. That is why all four flavours of Bisleri Pop are unique. People want change, something unique, and that is what we’re giving them,” he says. The four flavours — marketed under the tag line ‘Unlike Any Other’ — are Fonzo, a fizzy fruit drink; Limonata, a lemon-based drink; Spyci, a spiced cola drink; and PinaColada, a drink combining pineapple and coconut flavours. All these drinks are currently being marketed together as part of the Bisleri Pop family. The font and colour scheme used on the packaging seems inspired by Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘pop’ art, particularly his 1966 Newsweek cover. Chauhan is playing the price game this time around, having burnt his fingers in the past with Urzza,

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