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Bisleri's Ramesh Chauhan thinks this bottle is cute enough to be a collectible...

By Sunit Roy , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | October 06, 2016
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Bisleri has launched a funky looking 300 ml bottle called Rockstar. A quick look at the packaging and marketing effort.

The packaged drinking water market has surged significantly in India over the years, thanks to the rise in health awareness, increase in tourism, and on-the-go youth. With the aim to capture the youth segment, Bisleri, Parle Group's mineral water brand, recently hit the shelves of retail outlets in Mumbai with its new 'Rockstar' bottles. The brand claims that the new 300 ml bottle, available at Rs 8, is ideal to quench one's thirst on-the-go.

Speaking about the launch, Ramesh Chauhan, chairman and managing director, Bisleri International, says, "Bisleri Rockstar is an attempt to do some innovation in the mineral water industry. We wanted to bring in a fun factor without moving the focus from the product. Our idea was to play with the packaging, hence, the new 300 ml Rockstar was launched."

Bisleri launches new 300 ml 'Rockstar' bottle

The new product was launched in mid-September, only in Mumbai, to know if the consumer was ready to accept a new trend. "The Rockstar aims to attract consumers with its distinctive shape and affordability. The USP of the bottle is its unique shape and design," says Chauhan, adding, "Bisleri Rockstar is a quick, easy, and inexpensive thirst-quencher, which one can conveniently carry. It can fit comfortably in one's briefcase, or even a handbag."

Ramesh Chauhan

Bisleri has dominated the Indian market with a huge product portfolio in terms of packaged drinking water and aerated drinks. Some of the popular brands from Bisleri's catalogue include Bisleri Vedica, Bisleri Soda, Urzaa, and Bisleri Pop. Among these, Bisleri drinking water enjoys maximum popularity, and until now was available in 250 ml, 500 ml, 1 litre, 2 litre, 5 litre, 10 litre, and 20 litre packs. With the addition of the 300 ml pack, Bisleri has taken the competition a notch above.

"Our 250 ml and 500 ml stock-keeping units (SKUs) are already well-researched, placed and accepted in the market. However, our consumer research also showed that there was scope for a product that quenches thirst at once," says Chauhan.

The bottled-water industry witnessed a huge growth in the late 1990s, soon after Bisleri launched its packaged drinking water in the country. This significant growth was fuelled by a gamut of advertising by industry players highlighting 'bottled water as pure and healthy'. Over two decades have passed, and today, while the packaged drinking water market in India is flooded with various brands such as PepsiCo, Coca Cola, and Nestle, due to poor infrastructure, companies are still struggling to penetrate small cities and towns, thus providing an opportunity for small players to build a presence in regional markets. As a result, Bisleri, too, is feeling the heat, and is trying to make a strategic move.

"Today, Bisleri is a generic name for packaged drinking water. We have a strong history of sustainable innovation and we aim to continue the legacy by innovating our products and packaging category. As part of Bisleri's portfolio, the launch of Rockstar is a representation of the company's long-standing mission to innovate as per the consumer's changing requirement, and at an affordable price," informs Chauhan.

"The shape and style of the bottle is the key. So, instead of throwing away the bottle it can also be considered a collectible. The funky looking bottle is ideal for your everyday journeys, as well as for your grand celebration parties. One more advantage of the Rockstar bottle is its differential water quantity. One gets freedom from the inconvenience of carrying big, bulky water bottles that won't fit in our bags. Being a 300 ml bottle, the water quantity is just the right amount that one would want to carry on-the-go," he adds.

Currently, Rockstar has been launched only in Mumbai and the brand is enjoying an overwhelming response. "Be it at an event or a retail outlet, people in Mumbai are keen to try the unique 300 ml Rockstar, and we look forward to launch the same in other parts of India, too," says Chauhan.

Although, Bisleri is yet to launch an advertising campaign, the brand has been associating with a number of on-ground activities to promote its new product. "We've been associating with quite a few on-ground events where the target audience is the youth who can carry the handy 300 ml pack and flaunt it," says Chauhan. "Currently, the focus is purely on the digital medium. Simultaneously, Rockstar is making its debut at modern trade and retail outlets."

Smart packaging?

We asked our experts if Bisleri Rockstar will make a mark in the market that already has strong players such as Aquafina, Qua, and Kinley, and if the bottles can be considered as collectibles? This is what they have to say.

Sameer Aasht

According to Sameer Aasht, founder director, Alma Mater Biz Solutions, packaging for any offering has to have a good balance of form and function. Form stimulates a positive emotional response and function is a reinforcement of rational utility. "Human beings have a tendency to find themselves in all that surrounds them -- people, objects, brands, products, packaging -- are all means of self expression and self discovery. For example, the coke bottle has evolved through the years to embody the self projection of body shape and embraces the youthful energy in its new avatar. Pepsi projects a lean adolescent through its bottles," says Aasht.

"The market of packaged drinking water is predominantly a game of distribution. It is saturated with a series of local players selling low-cost replicas and a handful of national brands working on thin margins with very little source of differentiation. Epitomising attributes like purity, safety, nutrition, health, wellness, and youthfulness could be a lot better for water brands both for the premium end as practised by Evian (shown in the collage), and for a mass market offering like Bisleri. Gimmicks such as 'Rockstar' could help create some newsworthiness," Aasht adds.

Some of the interesting product packaging done by various brands

He, however, feels that the new Rockstar pack is nowhere being close to a collectible. "The bottle feels obese, bloated, and unworthy of carrying the 'cool' quotient. On the upside, it has a nonchalant feel that may appeal to those living in the moment. Function wise, it is unlikely to add any value, but may be less susceptible to spillages," he says.

Shripad Nadkarni

Shripad Nadkarni, founder, Fingerlix and Angel Investor, says, "Single serve packs are the norm in the soft drink section as they meet the need of immediate thirst quenching or refreshment. Since water fulfils both these functional needs, the new pack should attract a segment of the market looking for immediacy. I feel the single serve pack has the potential of opening up a new segment if the pricing makes economic sense."

He further adds, "I don't think the pack will be any more of a collectible than any of the current packs. Re-use of a bottle is the norm in India for everything, and this pack will not be an exception."

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