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Pepsi hard sells soft drinks at food joints

Pepsi hard sells soft drinks at food joints

Author | Source: The Economic Times | Saturday, Jan 21,2006 9:00 AM

Pepsi hard sells soft drinks at food joints

Next time you visit your favourite joint, chances are that the waiter will suggest a glass of Pepsi to wash down the fare. For, the cola major is putting in place a grand marketing strategy to shore up volumes focusing on key accounts such as eateries and restaurants.

A blueprint has been prepared for converting and increasing the offtake at these places through the brand's association with the food that is served. The company plans to incentivise staffers and attendants at the eating joints who hardsell Pepsi with every order they take from customers.

“This is an idea to drive conversion through the soft drink's visual association with food,” Mr Sandeep Singal, director (sales), PepsiCo India, told ET. For the cola major, this is going to be a big challenge as conversion rates are low in India and Indians are not habitual consumers of soft drinks with meals.

The company has roped in Solutions Marketing, a Delhi-based marketing services firm, for giving a finer shape to this strategy. To start with, Solutions will manage the whole programme, generate new ideas and place all the collaterals at the retail fronts. At a later stage, to regularise the incentive scheme, Pepsi will send out 'mystery customers' to the eateries to assess the progress on the programme.

Pepsi is quite bullish on eateries as a growth channel. The company estimates the number of food joints in the country to be over 2,00,000. The conversion programme is being rolled out across all large cities and depending on the experience garnered in three months, it will be extended to other centres.

“Eateries are extremely important to us since they account for 20-23% of soft drink volumes. Even if we manage to drive volumes by a few percentage points, it would be a huge gain,” Mr Singal said. This initiative is the first of its kind in the beverages industry by any player.

In fact, according to Pepsi, the bulk segment per se holds great potential. In all metros, bulk sales help in logging rapid growth and Pepsi wants a larger pie of the same. While the current initiative is aimed at making carbonated drinks more acceptable, unofficially, Pepsi acknowledges the increasing health consciousness.

The company plans to be aggressive on the product segments which combines indulgence with wellness. For instance, the company has internally divided its beverages into three categories - fun-for-you (or CSDs), better-for-you (diet colas and water) and good-for-you (juices).

It hopes the latter two will contribute close to 40% of its sales, in 3-4 years. No wonder, the hectic activity from Pepsi in diet products lately.

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