Water is the basic necessity of human beings and the increasing health awareness and scarcity has led to the development of mineral water industry in India. In 1999, the total annual bottled water consumption in the country was 1.5 billion litres and the market was growing at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25%. Coca-Cola entered this market with its purified mineral water ‘Kinley’ in August 2000. Kinley was introduced at a time when the generic name for bottled water was ‘Bisleri’ which was the market leader with more than 60% share. By 2002, Kinley was having 20 water plants across the country and was in the process of setting up 15 plants in the next one year.
The situation of Kinley for the time when it entered the market can be analyzed using the 5C framework.
Company: Coca-Cola was having a strong product line and image in the market. The company enjoyed the bouquet with brands like Coca Cola, Thums up, Limca etc. The company had a strong distribution channel and facilities in various parts of the country.
Competition: The major competitor of Kinley was Parle. Parle was expanding its Bisleri operations since 1995 and the average growth rate was 40% for over 10 years. Bisleri enjoyed the Brand Loyalty of the consumers by its safe and pure bottles. About 20% of the market share was enjoyed by the regional and local market niches.
Category: At the time of its launch, three categories of mineral water were prominent in the market. These were pouches, retail PET and bulk (20 litres capacity). Pouches were popular in both urban and rural because of their availability and pricing. PET bottles of 500ml to 1 litre capacity were being retailed from chemist to stationery. Bulk was a segment with huge margin and potential as they were much popular in households and corporate offices.
Context: As the consumers were becoming hygiene conscious and their purchasing power was also increasing, they were moving towards mineral water. Both domestic and international tourists were the potential customers of bottled water because of the scarcity of drinking water in most parts of the country.
Collaboration: Coca-Cola India was having a wide and well managed network of distributors along with supply of its existing products to restaurants, departmental stores, supermarkets.
Under these circumstances, Coca-Cola India launched Kinley on the trust and safety plank in August 2000. In the initial phase, it launched one litre pack in southern metros of the country and over the next few months it rolled out nationally. In early 2001, Kinley 500 ml was launched followed by Kinley 2 litres and Kinley 5 litres.
Coca-Cola India positioned Kinley as a brand based on ‘Purity’ and ‘Trust’ under the communication initiative ‘Boond Boond me Vishwas’. The brand, which already enjoyed the national distribution network of Coca-Cola India, Kinley positioned itself as a trustworthy and pure drinking water both in rural and urban areas. The company promised to give water as pure as it meant to be in their belief that “The right to pure, safe drinking water is fundamental”.
Product: Kinley was launched in 2000 with 500ml pack. By 2002, the packs were available in 500ml, 1 litre, 1.5 litres, 2 litres, 5litres, 20 litres, and 25 litres. In order to target restaurants, weddings, parties and similar social occasions, the company introduced 200ml water cups. Apart from this, 200ml pouches were made available in the rural areas. According to the company, Kinley water is purified with reverse osmosis using the latest technology. In 2008, Kinley launched a new bottle that was ‘easy to hold’ and offered more grip to conventional customers. A new transparent label was used under the spirit of purity.
Price: For 500ml pack, the company offered an introductory price of Rs. 4 which was against the price of Rs. 5 for 500ml Bisleri pack. With national rollout in consecutive months, pricing played a significant role for Kinley. For rural areas, Kinley introduced 200ml pouch at an attractive price of Re.1. Simultaneously, the company launched 200ml water cups priced at Rs. 3 per cup. Till 2003, the one litre bottle was available for Rs.10 the other being Bisleri for the same price. In 2009 when Pepsi co’s Aquafina and Parle’s Bisleri hiked prices from Rs. 8 to Rs. 10 for 500ml, Coke’s Kinley was still available for Rs. 5 in Delhi and for Rs. 8 in many other parts of the country.
Place: Using the existing strong distribution network of Coca Cola India, Kinley was initially made available in southern metros and later on rolled out nationwide. 200ml cups were initially introduced in Chennai and Gujarat and after their success they were launched in other states consecutively. The 200ml pouch for rural areas was first test marketed in selected places in Ahemdabad for test marketing. After the encouraging response, they were launched in other regions.
Promotion: The company launched an initial campaign of ‘Boond Boond me Vishwas’ or ‘trust in every drop’ which capitalised on the unreliability of ordinary tap drinking water. The campaign focused on trust. In words of Coca Cola India, “Kinley brand personifies trust, which is a key attribute in the packaged drinking water segment. Our product attribute matched with the brand positioning is a key reason that the brand has done so well in market despite aggressive and often low priced competitors”. In 2009, Kinley rebranded and launched the new campaign ‘Vishwas Karo’ or ‘Start Trusting’. The most vital attribute of this campaign was that the advertisements were aired in non-Hindi speaking areas. The campaign aimed at bringing forward Kinley’s belief that a little bit of trust can restore faith between people, within oneself and in the basic goodness of life at large. The company aimed at connecting with its customers by urging them to rediscover trust in each other.
In 2002, Kinley became number one packaged drinking brand in retail segment in the country. According to ORG-Marg, Kinley stood as the leader in retail segment (500ml to 2l) with market share of 35.1%. Bisleri, which was the market leader for decades stood second with 34.4% share. Kinley became a popular brand in two years. It was the quality and availability that made Kinley displace Bisleri for its position. Presently, Kinley is the number two brand in terms of overall market share of both retail and bulk. Bisleri continues to be the market leader with its preferred bulk segment but Kinley has emerged as a successful brand in few years.
For branding a commodity like water, marketers need to differentiate their offering by delivering unique attributes and values to the consumers. Kinley was able to provide the consumers the right product at the right place at the right time. With its successful campaigns of trust and purity, Kinley emerged as a trustworthy brand in the consumers’ minds. Keeping the first priority to capture market share and be the number one brand, Kinley offered competitive pricing. It was successful in building preference nationally. It was the quality, reach and recall value that made Kinley a successful brand.