NEW DELHI: Pepsi has started to label its cans and bottles in regional Indian languages in an attempt to attract local consumers – a first for any multinational.
In a move widely seen as a response to increased competition from local rivals, the US soft drinks giant began its micro-localisation two weeks ago and is now scaling up across the country, the Economic Times reported.
In Hindi-speaking areas, bottles and cans will display words such as 'bindaas' (cool) and 'dhamaal' (ruckus: a form of merriment) written in Hindi. The company is extending the idea to seven other languages: Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu.
Vipul Prakash, SVP for beverages at PepsiCo, told the Economic Times that the move aims to bring local relevance to the brand's assets. "India has the advantage of multiple languages and we want to leverage that connection with our consumers," he said.
It's also a reaction to the growing market share of local brands, like Bovonto, Xalta, Fresca, Jayanti Beverages and Hajoori & Sons, which claim an estimated 8-10% share of the Rs.22,000-crore carbonated soft drinks market.
The competition has largely arisen from deep distribution in local areas as well as an aggressive pricing strategy that has seen both Pepsi and Coca-Cola's prices undercut by up to 20%.
Earlier this year, the international brands faced a boycott by traders in Tamil Nadu, in a move that aimed to boost local brands while citing the multinationals' "exploitation" of state water bodies.
"The boycott in Tamil Nadu affected our volumes," Prakash said, "but now we are pretty much close to normal."
The move to regional languages in India reflects a wider trend. In online content specifically, a KPMG/Google report found that Indian language internet has seen a growth rate of 41% between 2011 and 2016.
In response to the report, Pallav Bajjuri, CEO, Kahaniya a regional language e-book company, told Entrepreneur India that languages mean more than just communication.
"In news, Dailyhunt is more popular than Flipboard […] because fundamentally language is not just about spoken or written words, it's also about culture, familiarity and things that matter to us every day."
Data sourced from Economic Times, Hindustan Times, KPMG/Google, Entrepreneur India; additional content by WARC staff