A feisty Ramesh Chauhan bubbles with enthusiasm when he speaks of Bisleri Pop. It marks his return to the carbonated soft drinks business, one that he sold in 1993 to Coca-Cola for Rs.180 crore. Chauhan, Bisleri International’s chairman, has entered this market at a time when a health-conscious consumer is giving soft drinks the miss. Over the last two years, the market for soft drinks has struggled to grow beyond Rs.15,000 crore (of this, colas and lime bring in Rs.12,000 crore) and it is hard to miss segments like juices taking off in a big way. In this scenario, success for Chauhan, who is still test-marketing Bisleri Pop, looks extremely difficult.
He is banking on his understanding of the business and that is still evident. Maaza, with revenues of Rs.2,500 crore, is still the largest brand in Coca-Cola India’s portfolio, while ThumsUp continues to outsell Coke. This time Chauhan at 75, is playing, what he terms the product innovation game in addition to very attractive pricing.