Business Strategy – India – Training – Retailing – November 2008
With slowdown in developed markets, companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are looking at emerging markets like India and China for growth. PepsiCo is aiming to triple its businesses in India over the next five years (and also setting up a new leadership structure in India). The Coca-Cola Company (Coke), the world’s largest nonalcoholic beverage company, is not one to be left behind. Coke has a new strategy and has renewed its focus on semi-urban and rural markets in India.
Market Focus – Targeting rural India
The soft drink consumption market in India is mainly concentrated in urban cities. Even, market research data suggests that consumers in urban cities spend ten times more than consumers in semi-urban and rural markets. However, Coca-Cola has renewed its focus on the rural market in India and believes there is huge opportunity with vast growth potential in these markets. Coke is targeting small towns (tier II and III towns like Agra, Bilaspur and Lucknow) and rural markets in India.
The ‘parivartan’ program – Training small town retailers
Coke’s new strategy involves training retailers (around 6,000 of them) in a program launched by the Coca-Cola University. [In 2007, the company launched Coca-Cola University — a virtual, global university for all learning and capability-building activities.]
The company calls this the “parivartan” program (meaning “Change” in English). Shop owners (traditional retailers) are given training on displaying and stocking products well. The goal of the innovative training program is to provide traditional Indian retailers with the skills, tools and techniques required to succeed in a constantly changing retail scenario. Presentations (including audio/visual technology) in local Hindi language help small retailers (with stores less than 200 square feet in average size) to better understand the concepts involved. Each retailer also receives a Coca-Cola “Certified Retailer” certificate at the conclusion of the program.
Adapting to local culture and taste
Last year, PepsiCo set up a research facility in India. Last month, Coke too set up an R&D faculty in India to develop beverages that suit local taste and increase focus on localizing its portfolio of beverages. Earlier, Coca-Cola India had been outsourcing all R&D functions from its facility in Shanghai. Some examples of local flavors include Maaza aam panna by Coca-Cola and Pepsi has locally-produced flavors under its Tropicana juice brand (with nimbu pani (lemon water) in the pipeline).
Moving from a price strategy to stepping up distribution
In the past (in 2002-03), Coke had already targeted rural consumers by bringing down the entry price (Rs 5 a bottle) for its product. Now, it has stepped up distribution of its 200-ml (priced at Rs 7 and Rs 8 ) returnable-glass-bottles.