INDIA – Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been losing share to local rivals, including Parle, Dabur and ITC, in the aerated-beverages segment even as the global soft-drink giants introduced more fruit-based and healthier products to reduce their reliance on sugary sodas.

In the overall juices, nectars and still drinks, the share of Coca-Cola’s largest fruit-based brand Maaza declined 230 basis points to 33.1%, while Pepsi’s Slice fell 4.3 basis points to 9.6% during the year to September, according to officials quoting data from Nielsen.

At the same time, Parle Agro’s Frooti gained 170 bps to 15.7%, while Dabur’s share rose 60 bps to 9.8%. New entrant ITC’s B Natural and ethnic drinks maker Paper Boat — both marginal players — have gained slightly in the period, the numbers reveal.

Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid brand, too, gained 50 basis points (bps) with a share of 2.30%, while Pepsi’s Tropicana lost 50 basis points to 5%.

With a large segment of Indian consumers shifting to non-cola carbonates from regular cola drinks, most beverage companies, including Coke and Pepsi, are trying to grab a bigger share of the changing market.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson said that Maaza maintained its absolute leadership in the mango segment with the highest share.

“The mango salience may have reduced marginally in the said period but within the mango segment, Maaza maintained its leadership position, with the same market share.

The shift in salience in non-mango has been captured ahead of competition by Minute Maid, which is growing at the healthiest rate in the segment,” the spokesperson added.

Deepika Warrier, vice president — Nutrition category, PepsiCo India, said that the company “redefined our play in juice…(that) reduced our investments on commoditised, low-margin segments, including low-juice content segments.

We have also consciously reduced play in channels such as organised trade and in select geographies, in the mango-based juice segment, while continuing to participate in the fast growing segment with our Tropicana Slice 250 ml pack.”

Coke and PepsiCo’s local rivals, however, said that their rising share should not cause any surprise, for they better understood Indian consumer preferences.

“Our understanding of the Indian palate and preferences has helped us stay ahead of the curve,” Dabur marketing head (juices and beverages) Mayank Kumar said.

Also, ITC has announced new launches within B Natural, especially with regionspecific fruits, while Parle Agro transformed its go-to market strategy two years ago, increasing its infrastructure efficiency by over 40% and doubling distribution points.

“Consumers are graduating from synthetic-based products and now want those with natural content.

While we have been extremely aggressive with our overall disruptive marketing strategy, we have also worked on building an extremely advanced GTM strategy that increased our infrastructure,” said Nadia Chauhan, joint managing director at Parle Agro.

Globally, shifting consumer tastes are prompting beverages giants to find ways to diversify away from traditional soda and high-calorie juices.

ET Retail