Coke targets Indian energy drinks market

16 December 2009

NEW DELHI: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks company, is aiming to take a leading position in the Indian energy drinks sector, and has introduced a new brand targeted at young, affluent consumers.

The US beverage giant recently added Burn – which is already available in over 70 markets around the world – to its portfolio in the Asian nation.

It will compete with major rivals including SoBe and Gatorade, both owned by PepsiCo, as well as Red Bull, Cloud 9 and Power Horse.

Ricardo Fort, vp, marketing at Coca-Cola India, said “the energy drink market in India is growing fast, at over 50% a year, and we are all set to tap this growing market with Burn. It's just the right time to be here.”

Initially, the product will be rolled out in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore, backed by an experiential marketing campaign, instead of more conventional forms of advertising.

As part of this process, “Burn-inspired” concept cars, designed to appeal to urban males, will be put on show at venues particularly favoured by this demographic.

Sampling, event sponsorship and other similar below-the-line activities will also be utilised across the three featured cities.

“We are targeting a very different set of consumers and traditional advertising would not be the right way to connect with them,” said Fort.

“It's intensive and exclusive consumer activation programmes, such as the roll-out of Burn-inspired cars, which make an impact on our audience. We'll continue with such promotions.”

Coca-Cola also plans to invest “significant money” in digital media, as it seeks to reach “socially active and adventurous young adults who are always on a new high in their lives.”

It previously launched Shock in the same category in India in 2001, but stopped selling it in 2003, in order to focus on its water and juice offerings.

However, Fort suggested that re-entering this particular segment made sense given how much tastes have developed in the rapidly-growing economy.

“The market has changed now. The Indian consumer is a lot more aware now,” he argued. “His taste has evolved. He wants the same products that are available in the global markets.”

“Moreover, consumers' disposable income has been growing in India. This makes the time perfect for the launch of Burn.”

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff