Points of View: Is the Indian palate ready for hybrid drinks?

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | November 16, 2015
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Coca-Cola recently launched Fuze Tea, a fusion drink in the latest line of hybrid drinks to hit the Indian market. Can such beverages replace the good ol' cuppa?

Coca-Cola India has recently brought its billion dollar brand Fuze Tea to India. The drink is a fusion of tea with fruit flavours and other natural ingredients. In India, Fuze Tea will initially be launched in lemon and peach flavours. Targetted at the SEC A plus urban population, a segment that traverses boundaries, is on-the-move and seeks wider product choices, the drink will be launched across the top 30 cities in the country including Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

The new product will be available in 250 ml PET bottles at a price of Rs 30. Initially, it will be available only in select outlets across modern and traditional trade with the intent to build preference and anticipation for it. Fuze Tea will also be available in some quick-service restaurant chains and online retail channels.


Launched in 2012 in 14 international markets simultaneously, the brand expanded its availability to more than 40 countries around the world. Fuze Tea claims to be one of the 20 billion dollar brands of The Coca-Cola Company in terms of revenue, as well as one of the fastest to achieve this milestone.

But, will it achieve this feat in India as well? In October 2013, Parle Agro had announced its re-entry into the carbonated soft drinks category with Café Cuba, a coffee-based beverage. The company was confident that the product would do well. However, its expectations were not met despite a high-decibel promotional campaign.

We at afaqs! spoke to some industry experts to find out if the Indian market/palate is ready for such hybrid drinks yet.

Raaghav Verma
Co-founder, Chaayos Café

Raaghav Verma

The Indian palate today has gotten adventurous and is definitely more open to experimentation than ever before. In order to cater to such shift in preferences, many international and regional cuisines are being reinvented. This is true for restaurants as well as packaged drinks because we are talking about the same set of consumers.

The success of the brand will however depend on the kind of product. It has to connect with the consumer at the concept level. You cannot take a product that worked in some other country, use it as it is and expect the Indian consumer to become a fan. The offering must be something that customers fundamentally understand.

Ashish Chanana
COO, Costa Coffee India

Ashish Chanana

The market for packaged drinks in India is growing beyond the metros. Although Grab-and-Go is still at a nascent stage, there is an emerging need for such drinks from the earning class in smaller towns as well.

Consumerism is the mantra today. Every restaurant or coffee shop is now offering an alternative to fizzy drinks. But, fizzy drinks still clearly hold the fort in the cold drinks category and tea and coffee is an integral part of our daily routine.

The consumption of such hybrid drinks will mostly be occasion-based as people have moved from the regular 'sweet lime soda'. Though hybrid drinks like lemon and peach iced teas are strong favourites with our consumers, other fruit flavours available in more developed markets globally are yet to be explored in the Indian market.

Jagdeep Kapoor
Brand guru and CMD, Samsika Marketing Consultants

Jagdeep Kapoor

Yes, there is a significant market for hybrid drinks in India. It exists beyond the 54 metros, in over 481 Class 1 towns.

Brands can expect a good response because the Indian consumer has evolved and likes fusion brands in food and beverage, taste and clothes. The consumers may look at it as a viable alternative, though not over and above fizzy drinks or tea and coffee.

All these initiatives will help organise the industry like refrigeration did.

Saurabh Uboweja
CEO and chief brand strategist, Brands of Desire

Saurabh Uboweja

The ready-to-drink beverage market, specifically the bottled tea market, is one of the fastest growing categories globally in the non-alcoholic beverages segment. India is just starting though.

Fuze will see a limited launch in India initially and the Indian consumer might just give it a thumbs up as Indians are traditionally tea drinkers and may lap up the modern drink, which is of assured quality and has a larger shelf life as compared to hot tea or iced tea prepared real time in cafes.

Interestingly, Fuze will also compete with its own portfolio of fizzy drinks but as long as the money goes in the same kitty, it's good for Coca Cola, which is trying hard to transform its image for health-conscious consumers globally.

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