Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Marketing

“Want to be available as a healthy alternative”: Nilon’s Rajheev Agarwal on new cold drink brand Cheers

With less sugar and more fruit on offer, the food brand is trying the health plank to find space in the Pepsi - Coca Cola market.

Leading food company Nilon’s has pulled off a fairly bold move. The brand has just launched its Cheers line of fizzy beverages. The non-alcoholic beverages market has been a fairly difficult one for new players, given the Coke-Pepsi clout.

However, the carbonated beverages segment has got itself a bad name in recent times due to the high sugar content and low nutritional benefit of the products. This is mainly because of the growing awareness around health and nutrition, and ailments like obesity and diabetes.

The trend is actually forcing both PepsiCo and Coke to cut down on sugar content, reduce portion sizes and launch sugar-free variants of popular brands like Fanta, Pepsi, Mirinda, 7Up, Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew.

Now, it is this trend that Nilon’s is pinning its hopes on. The Cheers portfolio puts forth new flavours like kokum, amla, ginger and jeera, while also including the more common lemon and orange variants. Nilon’s claims that its drinks are healthier than the existing alternatives, are low on sugar and have more real fruit content.

“Want to be available as a healthy alternative”: Nilon’s Rajheev Agarwal on new cold drink brand Cheers

Cheers is being built on top of the health proposition, which isn’t too common in the fizzy beverages category.

Rajheev Agarwal, director and CEO, Nilon’s, says that given the present COVID scenario, the company was working on healthy food ingredients, like amla, jeera, ginger, kokum, etc.

"We want Cheers to be available as a healthy alternative that people will come back for."

“We have created fizzy drinks, which have real extracts, unlike other products available in the market. We saw a white space where these products were needed – like, say, in canteens, railways, airlines, etc. We want Cheers to be available as a healthy alternative that people will come back for.”

Rajheev Agarwal
Rajheev Agarwal

Agarwal says that instead of going after the market share of Pepsi and Coke, the plan is to build a sub-segment in the fizzy beverages space.

The fruit-flavoured fizzy beverages segment has seen some movement recently, with new brands like Coolberg entering the space. However, fruit-based drinks haven’t seen much movement. Bisleri Fonzo, which was a mango-based fizzy drink, hasn’t seen much success. Appy Fizz from Parle Agro made it big, but that too is positioned as a sparkling drink.

The jeera variant from the Cheers portfolio will be competing with jeera soda brands like Jeeru.

While all the variants are priced at Rs 25 for 250 ml, only the Jeera variant of Cheers is priced at Rs 20 for for the same quantity.

Now, health has never been on offer in the fizzy drinks market. Most products here are calibrated for fun and joy for the young, and to be occasionally used to wash down fast food.

Agarwal says that the products will be sold across markets. The brand will mainly cater to a young TG, while also appealing to the older consumers.

“This is a time when cold beverages will take a back seat, but innovative beverages that can be consumed in ambient temperature will come forward and find favour,” he adds.

Cheers is also the first beverage in Nilon’s product portfolio, meaning, the company now has to set up its beverages distribution chain.

“We are trying to build an alternate distribution channel, which isn’t present in Nilon’s right now. We will use a combination of current distributors, as well as ones who specialise in cold drinks. We are able to ramp up specialised cold drink distributors,” Agarwal says.

Apart from general retail, Nilon’s plans to be visible in indoor canteens, offices, cafes, etc. The company also plans to place its products in catering services on trains and flights.

"We want Cheers to be in places where people might try it out of curiosity, while having their meals."

“We want Cheers to be in places where people might try it out of curiosity, while having their meals. We want to extend it to all the 7,000 office buildings in Mumbai.”

Nilon’s has traditionally refrained from spending too much on advertising. The company has mostly been driven by word of mouth, social media, and its sales and distribution infrastructure.

As the brand restrategises for new product launches and looks to newer markets, it is likely to change. Cheers will be presented to the consumers via a TV campaign led by actor Pankaj Tripathi. The message will be a mix of health and taste. Nilon’s will now be allocating 6-7 per cent of its turnover to advertising.

“Want to be available as a healthy alternative”: Nilon’s Rajheev Agarwal on new cold drink brand Cheers

The package design of the Cheers bottle is also meant to make the brand stand out. Unlike the usual pet bottles used for beverages, the Cheers bottle is shaped like a light bulb.

“Want to be available as a healthy alternative”: Nilon’s Rajheev Agarwal on new cold drink brand Cheers

“We wanted to stand out, in design terms, and say that we are not the regular cold drink bottle, or tetra pack. During tests, we also found out that the consumers connected it to Mentos’ tagline ‘dimaag ki batti jala de’,” Agarwal signs off.