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Piruz Khambatta

Chairman and Managing Director | 22 Oct 2003

"We want to position Rasna as ‘an affordable drink for the masses,’ contrary to its existing image of being a family drink."

As Chairman & Managing Director, Rasna Pvt. Ltd., Piruz Khambatta supervises the entire operations. It is under his direction that the company has maintained its stronghold over the soft drink concentrate market and is one of the only National companies in the FMCG sector holding its own in an arena of multinational players.

Associated with the manufacturing and marketing operations at Rasna since the age of 16, Khambatta has acquired all related technical skill necessary to run a successful National brand. With him at the helm, Rasna developed core strengths in brand salience, consumer understanding led marketing and a distribution network spanning the length and breadth of the country. This highly competitive company remains strong on innovations and has an effective promotion and advertising platform based on intensive research.

In this session of Brand Speak, Piruz Khambatta (with inputs from Rajesh Mehta, Asst. GM Marketing, Rasna) talks to Jasmeen Dugal about Rasna’s positioning in the soft drink concentrate market, the company’s foray into milk additives and the aspiration to touch the lives of 1 billion Indians.

Q. For years, Rasna’s tagline was ‘I love you Rasna.’ Why did you change it to ‘Relish a Gain?’

After years of `I love you Rasna', Rasna’s brand identity now reads `Relish a Gain', symbolized by a leaf. The best way to communicate with the masses was through a symbol and hence, the leaf with a red and green background. The various elements of the leaf logo portray freshness, naturalness, health, youth, dynamism, taste and appetite. We are concentrating on the health factor here. ‘Relish a Gain’ symbolizes its health benefits and thirst-quenching quality. The idea is to communicate a modern, professional, healthy and affordable drink.

Apart from talking about the core values of the brand, we also wanted a symbol to get a higher product visibility. We want consumers to identify Rasna from the image of the leaf. The aim is to reach out to the masses and create brand awareness in rural towns falling under the D, E and F categories and further down, in a drive to create ‘your every moment thirst’ with Rasna for the asking for as low a level of 80 paise per glass to Rs 4 per glass.

Q. What is the size of the preparatory soft drink market in India? What is Rasna’s market share?

The preparatory soft drink market is around Rs 250 crore, out of which Rasna has almost 90% volume share.

Q. How have you positioned Rasna?

We want to position Rasna as ‘an affordable drink for the masses’, contrary to its existing image of being a family drink. Our products cut across ages, family, children and economic strata.

Q. How have you ensured Rasna trickles down to the D & E segment?

We are more aware than anybody else about the price-centric behavior of the Indian market and have accordingly positioned our products. So far, Rasna has been present in only two price segments – Rs 4 and Re 1. But this year we have made an effort to raise the number of segments so that Rasna becomes affordable to more people in newer regions.

Sometime back, we had a project titled `Rasna for one billion Indians.’ Our range is such that the pricing is not a barrier for one who resides in the slum; we have the Rs. 0.80 range for them. We want them to feel that Rasna is a part of their everyday life. I don't think any other FMCG company has gone to the extent we have in promoting a brand among the masses.

Q. How are you selling at such a low price?

Rasna can sell at the low price because we are a fully Indian company and we manufacture every required ingredient within the country. There are no imports of concentrates as in the case of multinationals.

Q. Where does Rasna's claim of being a health drink stand in comparison with natural fruit juice brands such as Tropicana or Real?

Rasna is as healthy as any fresh juice brand. Moreover, we are better value-for-money than Tropicana or Real. A glass of Rasna along with sugar will cost Rs 1.25 in comparison to a glass of Tropicana, which will cost Rs 10 per glass.

Q. After the recent fracas about pesticides in carbonated drinks, has Rasna registered a jump in sales?

Yes, our sales did increase. There has been a growing demand for Rasna in retail stores. I think Indian fruit drinks are any day better than MNCs' carbonated drinks. Most consumers like to mix their soft drinks at home using soft drink concentrates for health reasons.

Q. How big is the milk additives category? What made you venture into it? Did you conduct any consumer research before launching 'Rasna Shake Up?’

The milk additives market is approximately 1,000-1,100 crores. We have been researching the milk drinking habits of our consumers over the last one year. Our research revealed that milk was viewed as plain and medicinal. Milk in itself is staid and that is why very few children like it.

In launching this product, Rasna is urging the children not to be seedha saadha. The USP is ‘don’t be serious and dull; be mischievous; have 'Rasna Shake Up,' which will make milk fun!’ By making daily consumption of milk an enjoyable experience, we are confident of not only winning over the existing consumers of milk additives but also the potentially big markets of the non-milk additives households.

Q. How are you promoting ‘Rasna Shake Up’?

The metallic packaging, attractive price points and availability in a single serve sachet will place a milkshake within the easy reach not only of the SEC A and B but also lower income households. This will make Rasna a formidable product.

Concentrating on sachets instead of a litre or 2-litre bottles to make it a mass product, we will build brand awareness through television commercials, press campaigns, outdoor campaigns including bus shelters, local level promotional activities like 50, 000 displays and a massive school contact program including 1, 000 schools.

Q. Who is handling the ad campaign?

Our ad campaign is being handled by Mudra.

Q. What is your future plan for brand ‘Rasna?’

We have charted out a three-year strategy for achieving specific milestones in growing the brand. Some of the specific targets in the three-year vision include attracting talent relevant to the need, increasing the per capita Rasna consumption from 15 to 100 glasses with the benefit of gain, reaching ‘every moment of thirst’ of consumers of all age groups, becoming one among the country's top 10 products in terms of visibility and brand recall and among the country's top 20 most admired companies.

Q. How important are BTL activities for a preparatory soft drink brand? Recently you had a promotional campaign in association with CRY. What was the concept behind ‘Rasna The Hero Day for CRY?’

‘Rasna The Hero Day for CRY’ was our endeavour to touch the lives of underprivileged children. We wanted to make ‘I love you Rasna’, which is true of most of the children in the country, true for these very special children. We urged school-going children to buy Rasna products on ‘Rasna The Hero Day for CRY’ because in doing that they will be touching the lives of their not so fortunate counterparts. All proceeds from the sales went to CRY.

Those present at the unveiling of ‘Rasna The Hero Day for CRY’ were treated to a special screening of ‘The Hero’. The highlight of the evening was the presence of Sunny Deol and director Anil Sharma, both of whom extended their support to Rasna’s initiative.

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