NEW DELHI: In a departure from its normal practice, Coca-Cola is test-marketing a new product in India through an e-commerce platform rather than selected modern trade stores.

The soft drinks giant has tied up with Grofers, a mobile app that specialises in grocery delivery, to enable consumers to order Sprite Zero, a low-calorie version of its popular Sprite carbonated drink, and have it delivered to their door.

During the two-week trial the company will pilot smaller-than-usual 300 ml cans costing Rs 25, the Economic Times reported.

"Coke will use the insights from on-demand sale on Grofers for Sprite Zero to identify and track consumer preferences and post-purchase feedback," according to an unnamed executive.

While the diet soft drinks market has grown in recent years it remains a niche category, accounting for around 2% of the total soft drinks market.

But, the Times Of India noted recently, last year's introduction of Coke Zero gave the sector a boost, as compound annual growth rates tripled to 39%.

"Coke Zero has become a Rs 40-crore brand within around ten months of its launch," one industry expert reported.

And Debabrata Mukherjee, vp/marketing & commercial, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, expressed surprise at the "strong consumer traction and high rates of conversion".

"What is important," she added, "is that it is perhaps showing the way for a lot of consumer brands in the diet and light foods category – a category that has not met with a lot of success in the Indian market."

For the new product, the combination of no-sugar – Sprite Zero contains the same sweeteners used in Coca-Cola Zero: aspartame and acesulfame – and a smaller can size could address some of the health concerns surrounding soft drinks.

Grofers, however, is promoting Sprite Zero by offering prizes to those consumers who buy the most during different daily time slots as well as over the course of the promotional period.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Times Of India, Grofers; additional content by Warc staff