Made In India Brand: Thums Up Has Just Become A Billion Dollar Brand! How This Happened?
Home-grown soft drink Thums Up became the first Indian beverage brand in Coca-Cola’s portfolio to become a billion-dollar brand in 2021.
Top Soft Drink In India
It made over $1 billion (Rs 7,500 crore) in sales last year.
Launched in 1977, it has enjoyed lasting popularity, leading the country’s aerated drinks market for years.
It is the largest beverage brand in Coca-Cola’s India portfolio and has now become the largest soft-drink brand in the country.
CEO of Coca-Cola Company James Quincey said that Thums Up secured the honor through “focused marketing and execution plans”.
Coke’s sales grew by nearly 30% in India during the December quarter, driven by omni-channel presence and marketing campaigns during festivals through occasion-led marketing.
The achievement is the culmination of an aggressive growth campaign since 2019, the year that India became the fifth-largest market for Coca-Cola by volume.
In Coke’s Hands From 1993
Thums Up was purchased from local cola king Ramesh Chauhan’s Parle Bisleri by the Coca-Cola Company in 1993 for $60 million along with Maaza, Limca, Citra and Gold Spot.
The deal marked Coca-Cola’s re-entry into India after an absence of 16 years.
It had exited India after the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) was passed in 1974 which required foreign companies to reduce their stake in Indian firms.
It was asked to reveal its formula which triggered its exit.
Successfully Replacing Coke In India
This situation led to a vacuum which Ramesh Chauhan leveraged to launch Thums Up, taking on existing brands like Campa Cola and Double Seven.
It became the top fizzy drink brand in India backed by strong distribution.
Thums Up dominated the Indian market with around 85% share in 1993 when Coke re-entered India.
Coke faced competition from Thums Up and Pepsi, so it acquired the former to take on the latter.
Bollywood And Sports Campaigns
Over the years Thums Up has been endorsed by some of the country’s biggest celebrities such as Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar with the iconic “Taste the Thunder” tag-line.
Last year it became the Tokyo Olympics’ worldwide partner and partnered with Indian athletes at the Games.
After the Olympics it became the first FMCG brand to partner with the Paralympic Games.
It then signed a deal with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to become the exclusive beverage partner for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
A National Icon
Vice president and head-marketing, Coca-Cola India Arnab Roy said that it made use of the opportunity after the second wave of the pandemic when both the Olympics and Paralympics were to be held in Japan.
With this it successfully managed to “evolve the positioning” of the brand.
What ultimately worked in Coke’s favor is that aside from positioning itself as an “aspirational, international brand”, it also promoted Thums Up as a “national revered icon,” as put by former Coca-Cola India CEO Jay Raja in a 2013 company post.