In the last couple of decades, India has seen a surge in serious ailments like cancer, cardiac ailments and diabetes. Most of these were attributed to a growing sedentary life, changing lifestyles, preference to western cuisine, increased availability of packaged fast food and consumption of soft drinks.
Equipped with vast resources, multinational companies have bombarded the market with promotional events, marketing techniques, and advertising campaigns aimed at a growing young Indian population. While concerned corporations like ITC have desisted from marketing tobacco brands due to legislation and growing consumer awareness, soft drink companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola have slowly moved towards fruit-based and non-cola drinks.
For companies like Coca-Cola, the new thrust areas are at the micro market level, where they have not only been exploring hyper-local taste preferences but also supporting the rural hinterland of farmer communities by encouraging them to grow fruits. On the other end of the scale, corporations like ITC and Unilever have been doing similar exercises to develop regional producers of grains, pulses, spices and vegetables.
A recent introduction, localised to the state of Tamil Nadu, was the launch of Minute Maid Colour. “After doing extensive grassroot level research and survey, we found that the word 'colour' was something which the local person used, when asking for bottled cold beverage to quench his thirst,” pointed out Srideep Kesavan, Director-Juices, Coca-Cola India & South West Asia.
“Minute Maid is our corporate brand, which delivers fruit-based drinks,” said T. Krishnakumar, President, Coca-Cola India & West Asia. “At Coca-Cola India, we are actively focusing on a strategy to offer consumers a wide variety of choices as per their preferences. In line with this, we follow a hyper-local strategy and introduce localised beverages that suit the taste preferences of a specific region. The launch of Minute Maid Colour is a step in the company’s transformational journey towards becoming a total beverage company with local roots,” says Krishnakumar.
Whether these activities are done to appease the local farmer community or to fight the resistance against sugar-based cola drinks and other fizz products, corporates in the consumer beverage and packaged foods are realising the need to modify their product lines to strike a logical balance. Coca-Cola, for instance, has been working very closely with agriculturists, farmers, irrigation specialists and advisors to adopt best practices, grow organic crops, depend less on harmful pesticides and plan crop cycles for better yields and thereby, gain better incomes.
“Consumers in Tamil Nadu have a special love for grape-flavoured beverages. When we did our year-long market survey, research and taste-testing, we found that, among other fruits, the black grape juice was a definite preference.
Minute Maid Colour is a deliciously rich grape juice drink with a few bubbles thrown in for fun. The product was developed keeping in mind local affinity and preferences,” informed Srideep Kesavan.
It is claimed that when such agriculture-related activities take place with initiatives launched by multinational corporations, the rural-based farmer communities benefit. Latest technologies, international practices, financial and other assistance and assured procurement deals give the agriculturists a better life. For instance, the Coca-Cola system in India is contributing its way to build sustainable communities through initiatives like ‘Support My School’, ‘VEER’, ‘Parivartan’, and ‘Unnati’.