Local vs Global Cola: A Close Look at Thums Up, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola in India}

Local vs Global Cola: A Close Look at Thums Up, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola in India

Let's take a look at the giants of the soft drink industry. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are household names worldwide, originating in the USA and spreading their refreshing reach to every corner of the world, India included. They bring an international taste, with a variety of drink options that appeal to a wide range of palates.

In contrast, Thums Up offers a uniquely Indian experience. Originating in India during the 1970s as a local alternative to foreign brands, it presents a bolder, fizzier flavour, and is loved by many for its distinct taste and Indian roots [1].Despite being acquired by Coca-Cola in the '90s, Thums Up has managed to maintain its authentic Indian identity and connect deeply with local consumers. While some speculated that Coca-Cola's acquisition aimed to eliminate competition [2], the company has consistently denied such claims. The bond between Indians and Thums Up is so strong that a hill in Maharashtra has been named after the beloved drink.

Digital Storefronts: The New Battleground

A digital storefront is a virtual outlet where businesses showcase and sell products to a global audience. It has gained relevance due to the shift towards online shopping and the rise of e-commerce platforms. Having a digital storefront alongside physical stores is crucial, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, as it allows businesses to adapt and thrive. It offers lower operational costs, wider exposure, and the flexibility to operate from anywhere. However, having a digital storefront alone does not guarantee increased leads and sales. Implementing effective sales and marketing principles is necessary for consistent quality leads. In the soft drink industry in India, digital storefronts play a significant role in the competition between Thums Up, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola, revealing market penetration and growth. Digital storefronts provide businesses with an opportunity to overcome geographical limitations and tap into a larger market, contributing to their growth and success.

Comparing Market Presence

From Q1 2022 to Q2 2023, we monitored the online presence of three brands in digital storefronts selling soft drinks across India. Initially, Coca-Cola had a digital presence in approximately 62% of these platforms. In contrast, Pepsi had a presence in around 31%, while Thums Up, the local player, established itself on about 19% of these platforms.

Throughout this period, all three brands experienced growth in their digital presence. Despite a slight drop to about 57% by Q2 2023, Coca-Cola achieved an overall growth of approximately 18%. On the other hand, Pepsi started with a 31% presence and achieved an overall growth of approximately 32%, maintaining an average market penetration of around 30%. Thums Up, starting from a smaller base, demonstrated resilience and consistent growth, reaching approximately 20% by the end of the period. This represents an overall growth of about 29%.

5 Strategies for Thriving in India’s Beverage Market

Whether you're an established brand or a newcomer, the following strategies can serve as your roadmap to growth. Based on our analysis and industry insights, the beverage market in India offers significant opportunities for online success and market expansion [1]. To boost your online presence and expand your market reach, consider implementing the following key takeaways:

1 - Boost Your Digital Footprint: Online platforms have become the new battleground for brands. In the competition between Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Thums Up, all three have expanded their digital presence. To stay relevant, beverage brands need to strengthen their digital strategies. Our data indicates that there is still tremendous room for further growth in the online world.

2 - Embrace Constant Innovation: Coca-Cola India's planned expansion strategy, centered around innovation and diversification, provides a roadmap for brands. Continual reinvention is crucial to stay ahead in this ever-evolving market. For instance, Coca-Cola introduced new flavor variants and packaging formats, such as limited edition seasonal flavors or eco-friendly packaging options, showcasing their commitment to innovation and meeting evolving consumer preferences.

3 - Monitor Market Dynamics: Thums Up's rise to a 20% market share in India's soft drink sector despite fierce competition from Pepsi and Coca-Cola underscores the importance of understanding the market. To tap into growth opportunities, brands should diligently analyze market trends and consumer preferences. It is crucial for brands to keep pace with or exceed the market growth rate to maintain their competitive edge and capture a larger share of the expanding market. This requires proactive monitoring of market dynamics and swift adaptation to changing consumer demands and preferences.

4 - Celebrate Local Identity: Thums Up's success lies in maintaining its authentic Indian character, resonating deeply with local consumers. Brands should leverage the power of localization to establish a stronger connection with their audience. For example, Coca-Cola India has been focusing on beverage localization, expanding its portfolio of ethnic drinks, manufacturing products in India, and sourcing local ingredients [3]. By promoting regional languages in packaging labels and marketing campaigns, brands can enhance their hyper-local strategies and better resonate with the diverse Indian market [4].

5 - Harness Power of Collaboration: Thums Up's collaborations with celebrities and major events have contributed to its popularity. Strategic partnerships and collaborations can be effective strategies for beverage brands to expand their reach, increase brand visibility, and tap into new customer segments. By collaborating with influencers, celebrities, local artists, or prominent events, beverage brands can leverage their existing fan base, gain credibility, and generate buzz around their products. Additionally, partnerships with e-commerce platforms, food delivery services, or other relevant online platforms can provide opportunities for increased exposure and accessibility.

By incorporating these strategies into your business approach and continuously tracking your progress through data-driven decisions, any beverage brand, regardless of size, can strive to achieve sustained growth and establish a strong market presence. Remember to stay true to your unique identity and leverage the wealth of opportunities presented by the online world.

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At Dashmote, we're committed to helping businesses navigate challenges and succeed in the digital marketplace. As the leading big data and AI analytics company in the F&B industry, we empower brands to make strategic decisions based on comprehensive analysis and valuable insights into the food delivery market and F&B trends.

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For more strategies for brands that aim to leverage on cultural preferences in the digital landscape, we recommend our article on Key Insights and Strategies for Food Delivery During Ramadan.