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Business – Q&A: Ricardo Fort, VP, Marketing, Coca Cola India

Seema Sindhu

Q&A: Ricardo Fort, VP, Marketing, Coca Cola India

Coca-Cola India is adding one more product to its portfolio in India – Burn. It is a premium energy drink (250 ml for Rs 75) which the company has launched to tap the Rs 200 crore energy drink market in India that is growing at over 60 per cent over the last couple of years. It will compete with Gatorade from PepsiCo and other established products like Red Bull and Cloud 9. Seema Sindhu spoke to Ricardo Fort, vice-president, marketing, Coca-Cola India, about the company’s plans on Burn, how it will impact the competition and other issues. Excerpts:

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Burn was introduced in Europe in the 90s. Why did it take you so long to launch it in India?
Consumers in India are very different from other parts of the world. Therefore, it takes time to launch a product in markets like these.

Has Burn been localised to suit Indian tastes?
No. But we have brought in a product that best suits the Indian taste. We are targeting young people and those on the go and need instant energy to keep them going.

How do you plan to market Burn?
It’s a niche premium product, so we will be using the media accordingly. Besides below-the-line activities, we will be using other innovative media. For instance, we have collaborated with Dilip Chhabria to design a car inspired by Burn. We will be using these cars to promote Burn on wheels through Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in the second week of December. In addition, we will be putting significant money in digital media. The styling of the Burn vehicle confirms the brand imagery and association that is targeted at socially active and adventurous young adults who are always on a new high in their lives.

Coca-Cola had brought another energy drink, Shock, in India in 2001. But you withdrew it two years later…

Shock performed well. But the company was focusing on other products that time. A lot was happening in carbonated drinks category then. We were more focused on water and juice-based products. The market has changed now. Indian consumer is a lot more aware now. His taste has evolved. He wants the same products that are available in the global markets. Moreover, consumers’ disposable income has been growing in India. This makes the time perfect for the launch of Burn.

What will be your strategy to face the competition from Gatorade, Red Bull and Cloud 9?
Our innovative marketing for Burn will make a mark. For instance, the Burn car innovation. We will do more such innovative marketing.

Right now it will be imported from Malaysia. Any plans to manufacture it in India only?

We have the capability to maufacture it in India. We might consider that in future.

You have variants of Burn like Burn with Juice in some other markets. India is a juice loving market. Will you be bringing such variants in India?
We did a lot of consumer research before bringing Burn to India. According to the findings, this is the most suitable energy drink for India. But as and when demand for other drinks increases, we will bring them to India.

You have a number of energy drink brands globally. Are you planning to bring in any more brands in India?
Not in the near future. But if demand generates in future, we will bring more brands.

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December 14, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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