Coca-Cola pitches Kinley to counter local brands

The country’s largest beverage maker, Coca-Cola India, will soon launch two carbonated flavoured-water drinks under the Kinley brand in a bid to take on local rivals. 

The move is significant because the company, according to sources, has for long been looking at ways and means to counter the growing influence of local brands.

The new range of the flavoured-water drinks will be the third line of products in the Kinley portfolio — after its bottled water and soda variants. The flavours include lemon and orange, which will be priced at Rs 15 each for a 250-ml PET bottle. The products would be rolled out in Bengaluru next week before being taken to other cities, persons in the know said.

More importantly, Coca-Cola India has ensured that the new products are competitively priced, keeping them at par with its 300-ml glass-bottle price of Coke. This price point is the second-lowest for the company — after the 200-ml glass-bottle price of Coke, which comes for Rs 12. 

The competitive pricing of the new Kinley range is in keeping with the company’s strategy of encouraging sampling and penetration, according to persons in the know. 

According to industry estimates, local players have captured nearly 8 per cent of the Rs 22,000-crore organised beverage market in India by pricing products cheaply.

Sources say the company is keen to prevent its flagship products such as Thums Up and Coca-Cola from having to wage a battle with local brands, since that could hurt their brand equity. Kinley, in this regard, was viewed as the company’s best bet to take on local brands. First launched as a packaged water brand in India, Kinley contributes less than 10 per cent to the firm’s revenue here. 

However, it remains popular among consumers, prompting Coca-Cola to leverage it to take on local brands.

The new range will be the third in line, after Diet Coke and Coke Zero, to contain aspartame, a synthetic sweetener, billed as a substitute for sugar. 

Last week, T Krishnakumar, president, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia, told Business Standard that the company proposed to reduce sugar content across all products, including carbonated drinks. The company has begun experimenting with stevia, a natural sweetener, under Fanta Fruity Orange in Gujarat.

“We will announce a programme on reduction of sugar across all our products in three months with clear milestones, so that we can bring it down to global standards,” Krishnakumar said.

Coca-Cola was beaten by rival PepsiCo last year in the race to launch a stevia-based drink in India, with the latter using the natural sweetener in fizzy drink 7Up, the first for the brand anywhere in the world.

FEEL GOOD FIZZ
  • The rise of local brands is prompting Coca-Cola India to launch two new fizzy drinks under Kinley
  • 8% of India’s Rs 22,000-cr organised beverage market today has been captured by local brands. The figure was lower earlier
  • The use of Kinley comes as Coke opts to keep big brands such as Thums Up and Coke out of the battle with local brands
  • The new drinks are carbonated flavoured water, priced at Rs 15 apiece for a 250-ml PET bottle