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5000 crore selling water?

Acha Laga? Share Karo!
5000 crore selling water?
By Jay Kapoor • Issue #31 • View online
Water is free, but how can you make 5000 crore with it?

“Right To Access To Drinking Water Is A Fundamental Right also It Is The Duty Of State Under Article 21 To Provide It To Citizens,” said Delhi High Court. 
Yet how a packaged drinking water company can produce 15 crore bottles a month, operate 122 plants, 4500 distributors, and 5000 distribution trucks in India and neighbouring countries. The company also aims to triple its 2018-19 revenue of INR 1,500 crores to INR 5,000 crore by 2022.
Today, we are looking at how Bisleri created and scaled a market for an otherwise free product. 
The packaged drinking water industry came into existence due to the lack of safe drinking water in Europe during World War II. Though it looked promising enough, it died down soon as countries developed quickly. 
Felice Bisleri was unable to market bottled water by 1969 and wanted to exit the market. Ramesh Chauhan of the Parle Group bought his company. Not that he saw any potential in the product, but had other plans. 
As a soft drink company, Parle did not have a soda brand in the market. Parle used the name and launched Bisleri Soda with two variants - carbonated and non-carbonated mineral water.
It was a success. The Italian name gave Bisleri a way to present itself with panache. They used a sophisticated man with a bow tie in their first printed ad campaign. It went like, “Bisleri is veri veri extraordinary.” The odd spelling and compelling name led Bisleri to many tongues.
The product continued to gain traction as Bisleri introduced PVC packaging and later PET bottles. The transparent nature of the bottle created a virtue of trust for the customer seeing the clear sparkling water.
Bisleri went to launch a twenty-litre commercial pack for office and home use. The company was doing just fine when they decided to sell their soft drinks brand to Coca-Cola. Maybe, they had a bigger vision for this ‘watery’ industry.
The bottled water industry of the 1990s, run by foreign tourists and NRIs, still had long to go. Bisleri identified this potential and went about reaching the masses. They launched a 500ml PET bottle for just 5 rupees. It was cheap and compact enough to deny consumers to put a second thought before grabbing one for themselves. 
And a hit they did. Bisleri achieved 400% growth and captured 40% of the INR 300 crore bottled water market, which is estimated to grow at 50% annually.
It was no stopping after that. They went head first for the bulk segment, targeting commercial establishments that had no piped water supply. Bisleri introduced 12L and 20L bottles for the same terrifically bringing the price per litre down from rupees 12 to 3.
A hit after hit, Bisleri exactly knew the waters they were in. They further went on to supply free samples to weddings and receptions. A practice they still follow today.
One fascinating thing about Bisleri is despite their market share and an already huge brand presence the company never stopped evolving, they introduced tamper-proof seals in 1998 and now go on to back their product with a 10 step quality process which includes 114 tests.
And this company just won’t stop! they went on to rebrand to green to cater to the mass environment-friendly appeal, introduced vernacular labels to enter regional spaces. A company that truly grows with its customers.
The brand has now become synonymous with packaged drinking water, their ad campaigns and market placement appeals are one of the if not the most intriguing.
Will Bisleri prevail in the years to come? It’s only for time to tell us. For now, they seem on quite the right track. What do you think about Bisleri as a brand? Do let us know and as always - Accha Laga Share Karo!
Written by - Paavan Singh
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