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Newly Lanched Thums Up Flavour Says Many Things About The Brand

While the sugar content in Thums Up Charged remains unchanged, it is the higher caffeine limit that makes the cola drink even more ‘thunderous'

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma,

It has been a rather long wait. Forty years. While several brands have reinvented themselves and undergone transformations from time to time to secure their loyalty among consumers, there is one that has so far preferred to cash in on its original avatar. Thums Up, the rather resilient homegrown biggie, recently completed 40 years of its journey in the country, practically retaining the same taste ever since its inception and virtually keeping up with the same brand positioning.

In mid-November, beverage maker Coca-Cola India, the parent company, launched a new variant - Thums Up Charged, which the company describes as a cola packed with even more thunder. Reason? While the sugar content in Thums Up Charged remains unchanged, it is the higher caffeine limit that makes the cola drink even more ‘thunderous’. Besides, Thums Up, for Coca-Cola India, is unique as it is the largest selling cola brand in the country generating around Rs 5,000 crore annual sales, capturing almost a lion’s share of the aerated soft-drink sales for the company itself. The overall aerated soft-drinks market stands at around Rs 22,000 crore in India.

With ‘Thums Up Charged’, Coca-Cola’s India unit intends to cross into the billion-dollar brands club over the next two years.  So far, a select club of 20-odd brands, from the cola major’s global portfolio of over 550 brands, generate $1 billion-plus in sales every year.  Interestingly, there are more water, tea and juice brands in the billion-dollar club of Coca-Cola brands than pure play cola drinks. Only Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero are the cola brands that feature in this exclusive club. Once in, Thums Up will be the sole ‘Made In India’ brand. Last year, Coca-Cola India had announced similar growth plans for its juice-based drink Maaza, which  is expected to clock $1 billion in annual sales by 2023.

So, what is the significance of brand Thums Up? Says brand expert Harish Bijoor, “Thums Up remains a classic Indian success. An Indian success made in India, made for India, and in terms of consumption, made by Indians for sure. The brand is one that had every other Cola that entered India in the last 40 years, to struggle its way.” Bijoor adds that the unique taste of a Thums Up has been a USP none could match.

“Thums Up believes in a unique expression of masculinity that challenges us to believe that heroism is a choice,” says T. Krishnakumar, the newly appointed President of Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia.

While the launch of the new Thums Up variant is in line with Coca-Cola India’s plan to become a total beverage player in the space of ready-to-drink and non-alcoholic drinks, it comes at a time when the overall cola sales in India is flat.

For instance, in India, brands such as Real, Slice, Tropicana and Rooh Afza are selling more than pure cola drinks. Worldwide, too, the story is no different as demand for fizzy drinks is slowing, with consumers showing a preference towards healthy drinks over sugary, aerated drinks.

Sample this: In 2016, sale of carbonated soft drinks across the globe tumbled by as much as 0.8 per cent in terms of volume, as per industry tracker Beverage Digest. Year before that, the fall was even more drastic at 1.2 per cent. This is primarily because of a drop in demand for diet sodas, which at one point, was the most preferred drink for calorie-conscious consumers.

Back home, Coca-Cola India posted a double-digit growth in revenue to cross  the Rs 9,400-crore mark, PepsiCo India clocked Rs 6,500 crore in revenue but with a virtually flat growth rate.

Brand experts say since soda makers are aware of the shifting preferences of the consumers, they are increasingly making an attempt to redo their portfolio in diverse categories to cater to changing consumer needs.

“The consumer’s choice today is much more precise and varied. We are, therefore, transitioning ourselves to being a company that can offer a range of beverages,” says Krishnakumar. In India, Coca-Cola is present in three categories, sparkling beverages, juices and juice-based drinks, and water. Its rival, PepsiCo has beverages (aerated, juices, water), foods (snacks and snack meals) and other products including breakfast products.

Coca-Cola had acquired both Thums Up and Maaza from Ramesh Chauhan’s Parle nearly 24 years ago, in 1993.  However, these are not the only brands acquired at that time. The company had also acquired other brands such as Limca, Citra and Gold Spot from the group. However, after the acquisition, the company discontinued brands such as Citra and Gold Spot.

Currently, India is ranked sixth in terms of volume sales among The Coca-Cola Company markets. India’s ranking was 19, ten years ago. Over the years, Coca-Cola India has expanded its product portfolio to over 14 master brands and over 35 variants from 9, a decade ago.

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