According to reports, Ramesh Chauhan, owner of Bisleri International, is looking for a suitable buyer who will nurture and grow the brand.
In India, many people associate water with the brand Bisleri. The brand is so inextricably tied to packaged drinking water that in 2018, it came out with a campaign titled 'Har paani ki bottle Bisleri nahi'. The country's leading packaged drinking water brand has earned the trust of consumers over the last four decades.
It looks like Bisleri will now be bought by Tata Consumer Products (TCPL) for Rs 6,000-7,000 crore. In the $5.55 billion-worth bottled water market (as of 2022), Bisleri mainly competes with Coca-Cola's Kinley and PepsiCo's Aquafina.
Bisleri’s ownership could give Tata an advantage over other packaged drinking water brands in India. It is a decisive moment for both the brand as well as the packaged drinking water category.
As per media reports, Bisleri's turnover is an estimated Rs 2,500 crore and profit stands at Rs 220 crore till now (FY23). Ramesh Chauhan, 88, owner of Bisleri International, is selling the brand because he has no successor who can work on expanding the brand further. Bisleri is the only brand that the original owners have held on to, until now.
So, what will be the impact of the acquisition on the packaged drinking water market in India? Will it mean tougher competition for other players?
Adityan Kayalakal, senior director of creative strategy, BYJU'S, shares, "This is the first major consolidation in the packaged drinking water space. Tata, through this acquisition, will double the number of brands it has in this category (Tata Copper Plus Water and Bisleri) as well as the premium space (Himalayan and Vedica). It will significantly increase Tata’s distribution muscle. Other brands could feel the heat from that perspective."
"Tata wants to establish leadership in the categories they are present in like Tata Salt & Tata Tea. Bisleri with more than 30% market share will catapult Tata Consumer to leadership in packaged water. Bisleri will fit nicely at the ‘Economy’ end of the Tata Consumer packaged water portfolio with premium brands like Himalayan brand, Tata Copper Plus Water and Tata Gluco+." Comments Jasravee Kaur Chandra, director, Master Sun- Consulting Brand of Adiva L Pvt Ltd.
She adds, "This gives Tatas the ability to confront competition with almost a complete portfolio of products at different price points & differing value propositions. This will enable Bisleri to push its packaged water better in the channel when compared to the competition."
Despite the stiff competition, Bisleri is still the market leader in India, with a 60% share of bottled water segment. Will the acquisition help to fight the counterfeit Bisleri products that are being readily sold in the market?
Kayalakal comments, "This acquisition will not help to fight fake/counterfeit products from day one. Tata Consumer Products can focus on ensuring that retailers stock only its products.”
“Moreover, future direct-to-consumer (D2C) efforts from the Tata Group can now include multiple packaged water drinking options. However, the main efforts will need to go into packaging that's innovative and easily recognisable. Packaging that can’t be duplicated. But fake products - the Bilseri's, Bislero's, etc., will continue. There is very little that one can do to completely put an end to that."
Chandra adds, "Bisleri can take advantage of some of the best practices of other Tata brands in fighting counterfeiting for many decades. Tata Group is no stranger to counterfeiting, having fought the challenge in its various group companies right from Steel to Salt. The Tata Consumer team is currently running a ‘Har Narangi Pack Tata Namak Nahi Hota’ anti counterfeit campaign for Tata Salt. A lot of counterfeiting has to be fought at the local and state level and Tata Group’s great equity and relationships with local & state governments will augment Bisleri’s fight."
The Internet is abuzz with 'the negotiation' that Chauhan talked about in a recent Economic Times (ET) interview.
In a LinkedIn post, Dr Kushal Sanghvi, India and SEA head, CitrusAd (a retail media platform for sponsored product and email ads, banners), mentions how the coming together of the two brands, will lead to the unfolding of a new dimension.
The post mentions: