Coca-Cola wants to grow in India by selling less Coke

Kick the habit.
Kick the habit.
Image: Reuters/Beawiharta
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The world’s largest beverage maker has big plans for India.

The Coca-Cola Company wants the country to be its third-largest market globally, up from the sixth position currently, recently appointed chief executive James Quincey told local press on his maiden visit to India. He took the helm of the Atlanta-based firm in May this year.

“The most immediate challenge for the country is to become No. 5 in the foreseeable future but in the end, my vision for India is we will be one of the top three markets in the world for Coca-Cola Company,” Quincey said on Aug. 31. At the moment, the company’s top five markets are the US, Mexico, China, Brazil, and Japan.

But with urban Indian consumers veering away from sugar-loaded sodas and looking for healthier options, the maker of Coke, ThumsUp, and Sprite is looking to diversify its portfolio, focusing more on selling fruit-based and nutritious beverages, instead of the fizzy drinks it’s known for.

“The company needs to be bigger than brand Coca-Cola,” Quincey said, according to a report in The Economic Times newspaper. “While the brand will always be the heart and soul, the company needs to be much bigger, which means participating in many more categories that the consumers want to drink.”

Over the past few months, the company has forayed into dairy-based beverages, sold under the Vio brand, as well as launching coconut water brand Zico, and widening the distribution of its Minute Maid juice-based beverages. It’s also promised to reduce the sugar content of its drinks in India over the next three years.

For now, carbonated beverages account for less than to 70% of all drinks sold by the company in India, while the share of non-fizzy drinks has gone up to 35%, and is expected to keep rising.