There is something really-really abnormal going on with the marketing at Pepsico. After Pepsi MAX, they have yet again come up with a flop cola and with that endangering again the positioning of the mother brand. The marketing echelon at Pepsico have deemed Pepsi Atom as their second 'mainstream' cola. They claim that the product was INNOVATED (like we don't know whats a jaljeera) to suit the Indian palate. I discern a consumer research veering in a terribly wrong direction.
The Indian soft drink is a 14000 crore market. The cola segment is being dominated by Thums Up, gorging in approximately 15% market share since its inception. A brand so successful, so strong, that Coke(the owners Thums Up) had to make an exception in their global policies to accommodate Thums Up. The essence to successful branding is undoubtedly consistency. And Thums Up has "consistently" maintained its rough, rugged and brawny masculine positioning.
Now, this "second mainstream" cola is essentially being targeted at Thums Up, by titling it as the 'Josh Cola'. Its overtly visible that Pepsi has terribly underestimated the might of Thums Up's entrenched positioning. Thums Up has had the first mover advantage, it has been consistent, but more importantly it has been successful in garnering "acceptance". Any Cola which tries to challenge that massive positioning will have to struggle, struggle a lot! It would require each and every aspect of the offering to be in complete harmony with each other and sadly, Pepsi Atom does not stand a chance.
I did a survey as to how the people found the taste of Pepsi Atom. Well, its hopelessly pathetic! Many are giving a similar response that it tastes like some ayurvedic medicine, chyavanprash to be precise. So, on the product aspect the offering falls flat on its face. They should have conducted a better consumer research before wasting resources on this product. They claim it Indo-vation, innovation for India. Its very sad that even after spending two decades in India, the company could not understand the Indian psyche. Yes, Jaljeera is a traditional flavor enjoyed by Indians. But, the occasion, frequency and usage of jaljeera is entirely different from that of a Cola! just because masala flavored chips are a hit, you can't extrapolate the same to a cola.
Its often claimed that FMCG sales are driven by heavy marketing, promotion and branding. So, to push this flop product the marketers face a formidably daunting task. And what they have come up with, can in no way push this product for long. It may at max sell as an ephemeral fad because of Pepsi's brand power. The positioning is vague and struggles between brains of sprite and brawns of Thums Up. The company is trying to make this bunny of a product fight with a lion like Thums Up. Thums Up has India's biggest star power on its side, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar. Why would the company chose a new comer, so new that he has only one movie that too not as a sole lead to his name, to compete with the star power of the big daddies of Bollywood. So, the promotion and branding is also nothing over a prosy mediocrity.
Overall its going to be a flop product combined with a flop branding which the company has deemed as its 'BIG' launch and have declared to spend heavily on distribution and marketing on this inconsistency. I can foresee some cash burning.
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