Indian Soft Drink Industry Isn’t Conservative Anymore. Quirky Flavours By Paper Boat?

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We must have seen a number of listicles about the crazy cola flavours that are sold around the world and wondered is this for real or sometimes drooled at the brilliance that the cola companies that sometimes come with, in their research lab.

When it comes to flavoured sodas, no one beats the nation where it stands today– The United States of America. In the USA alone, the average consumption of cola is more than 3 glasses each day and Coca Cola beats Pepsi with a healthy margin of 42 percent of market share against 31 percent.

But when it comes to serving quirky flavours to their customers, Cola brands put on their weirdest thinking caps in the Japanese industry (Google: Strawberry Milk Pepsi).

But when it comes to the subcontinent, why are the soft drink makers conservative when it comes to quirky flavours?

Soft Drinks in India has been for more than 150 years, even before two multinationals Coca Cola and Pepsi made their debut in the Indian soft drink industry. Some of you may remember the raspberry sodas like Duke’s, Roger’s and Pallonji which were part of the Parsi community of Mumbai, today only Pallonji remains which has the 149-year-old legacy.

Other small players like Sosyo, a popular drink in Gujarat is trying to capture the attention in metropolitan cities like Mumbai but may never be able to match up to the marketing mights of the MNC colas.

Compared to other markets in the Europe and South East Asia, Indian soft drink market is a little conservative.

Markets like Japan, New Zealand, and Russia have cola flavours which vary with seasons and have been popular on various listicles online due to their bizarre flavours but you won’t find a similar trend in India. One of the reasons being the flavours released in these markets is too bizarre to have experimented in India and second is the market very mature to release new flavours according to the seasons.

According to official reports in 2013, 17,755 million litres of soft drink was consumed, a whopping number but compared to other developed markets this is not even close when compared to 4.8 billion litres consumed in the US alone. Though cola brands are seeing a healthy percent increase in the soft drinks consumption and from 2008 there has been an increase of 170 percent which may further grow 19 percent annually till 2018.

The soft drinks industry (colas, bottled water and juices) will see a further growth in India with people spending more on the packaged products and the long summers providing much required boost to the industry. But the carbonated colas will see a slowdown which is seen in the other markets too where bottled water and juice products are being consumed both by the urban and rural areas alike.

With increased awareness about the carbonated drinks coming to fore, people are looking to other alternatives to quench their thirst. Increased marketing efforts and communications from soft drinks manufacturers are expected to continue playing an important role in terms of pushing sales in most of the soft drinks categories.

There has been a surge of new players in the soft drink segment with one of the emerging names being Paper Boat and the flavours that it offers. The company has selected flavours which naturally have a nostalgic as well as a connection with the consumer, also adding an edge to its marketing strategy.

Soon others have followed and today Coca Cola too is trying to add a number of flavours to its arsenal to tackle this upcoming competition. Coca Cola is still a leader in the market according to a few research papers with its iconic brands like Thumbs Up and Sprite which are growing to its extra fizz in its drinks though Pepsi has the larger market distribution.

The Indian cola industry is just heating up with new brands and a lot of different offerings but will the MNCs introduce their foreign flavours in the country and spice the battle further and manage to grab the attention of the consumers is yet to be seen.




Vivek Kapadia

An IT graduate and a journalist by profession who loves coffee, humans and computers. Global affairs, tech and music are some of the topics that get me talking. In my free time, you will find me either with a book or a guitar.

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