New Delhi: Indians seem to buying more packaged premium bottled water. In its third-quarter earnings released on Friday, American beverage company Coca-Cola said that India is now the fourth-largest market globally for its brand of premium bottled water called ‘smartwater’.
The company announced its earnings for the third quarter ended September 27, 2019, on Friday.
In the Asia-pacific region unit case volume grew 4%, the company said in its release, “due to broad-based growth across the majority of key markets, partially offset by a decline in Japan. Volume growth was led by Southeast Asia, China and India.”
The company however, does not share India-specific numbers.
Coca-Cola’s push to expand the reach and sell more on-the-go beverage packs of its brands also helped it draw volume growth in the market, the company’s top management told investors.
“In India, for example, immediate consumption transactions have grown double-digits year-to-date, fuelled by adding more than 650,000 new customer outlets during the year and placing more than 25,000 additional coolers in the market,” James Quincey, chairman, and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, told investors during the company’s earnings call. Immediate consumption packs are on-the-go packs which are consumed instantly and different from in-home, large pack sizes.
Price and volume mix grew 2% for the quarter, largely driven by solid performance from the company’s bottling operations in India, the company said of growth in its bottling operations.
The local arm of the beverage maker launched its ‘smartwater’ brand in 2017 in India to expand its portfolio of beverages beyond fizzy drinks to juices such as Minute Maid, bottled water Kinley, energy drink BURN, and flavoured milk, among others.
Its ‘smartwater’ is sold as a premium product globally and became the fourth water brand to be launched by Coca-Cola in India.
In the last one year the brand has leveraged celebrity endorsements to become the second-largest premium water brand in the market, the company said. “In the explorer and challenger phase, the company leveraged local celebrity endorsements and digital marketing to drive brand edge while expanding distribution in select channels as a premium offering,” the company said.
The bottle is sold at ₹50 for 750 ml on e-commerce websites and modern trade shops and is endorsed by actors Radhika Apte and Rana Daggubati.
The brand has set a target to reach 90,000 outlets by the end of 2019.
Globally, Coca-Cola reported a net revenue growth of 8% to $9.5 billion during the quarter. Its signature Coca-Cola brand posted a retail value growth of 6% globally (year-to-date) “through an accelerated pace of innovation and optimizing price pack architecture in the marketplace.” Interestingly, the largest contributor to this growth was its flagship US market, where business was “driven by continued double-digit volume growth in Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, in addition to strong growth in smaller packages,” the company said.