Why POP didn’t taste the thunder?

Bisleri was originally set up by an Italian entrepreneur Felice Bisleri, who first brought the idea of selling bottled water in India. Bisleri then was introduced in 1965 in Mumbai in glass bottles in two varieties – bubbly & still. Parle bought Bisleri Ltd. from the Italian entrepreneurin 1969, when the brand could not carve out a market for bottled water in India. The company after taken up by Chauhans (Parle Group) had a dream run ever since. Following 1991, Bisleri came with various sizes, packaging, product, and brand extensions. It changed its blue identity to green in the year 2006. The new extensions included Natural Mountain water from the Himalayas (2006), celebration bottles (2009), limited cricket edition bottles (2010), Vedica was reinvented (2012). Their "Kiss to Drink" campaign to promote 500ml bottles and encourage every individual to buy and kiss their own 500ml Bisleri bottle was one of the most talked-about campaigns. By 2014, Bisleri had a 60% market share in India in the mineral water segment.

In the year 2016, Bisleri came with yet another promising endorsed brand “POP”.Takingcues from consumers moving away from traditional carbonated drinks, Bisleri launched a range of four new fizzy drinks called Bisleri Limonata, Bisleri Fonzo, Bisleri Pina Colada, and Bisleri Spyci.

Ramesh Chauhan, Chairman, Bisleri International told the economic times in 2016 at the POP launch "Our wide market reach along with our strong brand reputation gives us an added advantage. Bisleri Pop has products with flavors that are distinctive and different from any other drinks available in the market,". The brand was launched with a mix of BTL and digital campaigns. The bottles were priced attractively at Rs. 10 for 200 ml bottle, Rs 15 for 300 ml bottle, and Rs 20 for 250 ml can.

Exactly two years from February 26, 2018, from when the first report on POP was covered by economic times to the second news article covered by The Hindu read "Ramesh Chauhan, is yet to ‘taste the thunder’ of his latest carbonated offering, Bisleri Pop.” In the same year,Bisleri Pop was withdrawn by the company.

Citing a few reasons for its withdrawal

· Bisleri Pop was launched in early 2016, almost 22 years after Chauhan sold Thums Up and some of his other brands to Coca-Cola. For the company, it didn’t make sense going back to the same category which they sold decades back.

· Lack of interest amongstdistributors, since they always wanted to promote Bisleri water instead of the carbonated beverages.

· Though the carbonated soft drinks market was going down at the rate of 6 to 9% between 2014-16, the chairman felt that people are tired of the standard cola, orange, and lemon. Though consumers indeed wanted variations, the brand needed to understand that it needed heavy interventions in terms of Television advertisements and endorsements, as the top-of-mind awareness with recall value are less for such brands, given the multitude of competitors, though the brand did a lot of BTL activities in major metro cities.

· Low penetration, low per capita consumption (annual per capita soft drink consumption was 5 to 6 bottles in India in 2012 versus 17 bottles in Pakistan versus 605 bottles in Mexico)

· The brand had severe competition from Fanta green mango (fruit with frizz drink- from coco-cola house) and 7 up Nimbooz Masala soda (from Pepsi co)

· The beverage market was highly varied concerning drink categories and brands. The non-alcoholic beverage segment is generally divided into soft drinks and hot beverages. Even though soft drinks had existed for a long time, soft drink consumption in India is primarily experiential, as contrasting to Western counterparts, where they are consumed frequently to gobble down the moderately drier food in those regions compared to India.

· Amid rising health concerns worldwide about the use of carbonated drinks and increased competition from local, healthier drinks, the carbonated drink volumes experienced an uphill battle to grow.

What do you think was the major reason for the failure of POP, was it due to the lack of brand salience or it was that the company couldn't target the right customer, or it was due to the brand loyalty that customers have for Coca-cola and Pepsi in the soft-drink segment?

But what's more interesting is to see if Chauhan's wants to get the fizz back with their POP in the future.

Author : Dr. Sumanjit Daas

Co-Author : Deepanshi Singhal