Coca Cola India's Thirst for the Rural Market: 'Thanda' Goes Rural
In early 2002, Coca-Cola India (CCI) (Refer Exhibit I for information about CCI) launched a new advertisement campaign featuring leading bollywood actor - Aamir Khan. The advertisement with the tag line - 'Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola' was targeted at rural and semi-urban consumers. According to company sources, the idea was to position Coca-Cola as a generic brand for cold drinks. The campaign was launched to support CCI's rural marketing initiatives. CCI began focusing on the rural market in the early 2000s in order to increase volumes. This decision was not surprising, given the huge size of the untapped rural market in India (Refer Exhibit II to learn about the rural market in India). With flat sales in the urban areas, it was clear that CCI would have to shift its focus to the rural market. Nantoo Banerjee, spokeswoman - CCI, said, "The real market in India is in the rural areas. If you can crack it, there is tremendous potential. However, the poor rural infrastructure and consumption habits that are very different from those of urban people were two major obstacles to cracking the rural market for CCI. Because of the erratic power supply most grocers in rural areas did not stock cold drinks. Also, people in rural areas had a preference for traditional cold beverages such as 'lassi'6 and lemon juice. Further, the price of the beverage was also a major factor for the rural consumer.
CCI's Rural Marketing Strategy
CCI's rural marketing strategy was based on three A's - Availability, Affordability and Acceptability. The first 'A' - Availability emphasized on the availability of the product to the customer; the second 'A' Affordability focused on product pricing, and the third 'A'- Acceptability focused on convincing the customer to buy the product.
Once CCI entered the rural market; it focused on strengthening its distribution...