Dabur's Real beats Pepsi's Tropicana and Coke's Minute Maid, takes lead in packaged juice market
As purchasing power burgeoned, juices became visible in urban homes.
Way back in the summer of 1997, when Indian consumers were still revelling in the delights of foreign colas and carbonated soft drinks, one company decided to bring to market juices, till then a virtually alien beverage category, at least in the branded space. For the first three years, consumer products marketer Dabur's decision to flag off the Real range of juices seemed a mistake. The juices found few takers, for various reasons. For one, juices are expensive, at least vis-a-vis fizzy drinks and the array of unbranded alternatives available across the country (from sugarcane to coconut water). For another, most packaged juices have preservatives that kill the natural taste.But Dabur persisted. The growth was slow and sputtering. Along the way rivals entered the fray, Pepsi with Tropicana and Coke with Minute Maid being the two most notable ones. The difference, of course, was that for the cola majors juices was a very niche and small category, unlike for Dabur which was pinning its entire hopes in beverages on juices.
It took an entire decade for juices to begin making some serious contribution to Dabur's coffers. As the Indian middle class and its purchasing power burgeoned, and as health & wellness became an aspiration, juices started becoming visible in more urban homes. To put the acceptance in perspective with numbers, it took 10 years for the juices franchise to be worth Rs 200 crore, by 2007. Five years later, juices is a Rs 650 crore division for Dabur, second only to Dabur Amla hair oil, which was launched 47 years before the juice.
Pegged at Rs 1,100 crore, the juice market today is growing at 25% year-on-year. Nielsen figures sourced by Brand Equity indicate that Dabur was a leader by far for the six-month period from April to September of 2012 with a 52% share; Tropicana follows with 38%. The juices category is different from the readyto-drink segment, which has brands like Frooti, Slice and Maaza.
"When Dabur took a bet on pure 100% juices, the market was still pre-dominantly ready-to-drink beverages, but today their bet is paying rich dividends," says Devendra Chawla, president of Future Group's Food Bazaar retailing format. As Dabur persisted, it also kept trying — with innovations, not just in tastes but in packaging and in flavours. For instance, Dabur in 1997 launched its juices in 1 litre tetrapaks.
"When we decided to launch juices we were very clear we didn't want to add preservatives; so we started looking for options to increase the shelf life of the product," says Jaipuriar. He adds that juices in tetrapaks can remain fresh up to eight months when not opened and don't have to be stored in a cool place if unopened.
After building Real into a power brand in juices on the platform of purity (no artificial flavours and preservatives), Dabur saw a sharper-focused opportunity within the health ambit. So it extended Real with the Activ sub-brand, a range that has no added sugar, has fibre added, and comes in vegetable plus fruit combos. The most recent addition to the juices basket is Real Burrst on the platform of refreshment, thereby taking on the fizzy drink labels.
The communication for the new offerings is also clear-cut. For instance, Dabur chose Bollywood fitness figure Bipasha Basu to endorse the healthy range of Activ juices; the Real range that is targeted at moms and kids has real-life mother Sonali Bendre spelling out its benefits.
Modern trade has provided a solid impetus to Dabur's juices business, thanks to the ability of organised retailing formats to provide visibility that translates into immediate gains. Before the arrival of modern trade, Dabur pushed Real through unconventional outlets like bakeries and chemist shops; Jaipuriar says that even today neighbourhood panwallas stock Real juices.
The next big trigger for juice brands is to get non-metro consumers to contribute more to sales. Growth of juice consumption in tier 2 and 3 cities is double the rate of tier 1 cities in the 100% juices category in Big Bazaar stores, points out Chawla.
"The juice culture exists not just in Delhi or Chennai but also in small towns of Uttar Pradesh Punjab. (That's because) modern trade is all over," says Homi Battiwalla, director, juice & juice drinks at Pepsi-Co. Battiwala adds that the the next challenge is to bring down costs. "We are seeing a good growth story across India. It is now up to us to make juices affordable and relevant to more consumers."