Olly Wehring

Tips for Coke and Pepsi in India

By: Olly Wehring - 30 August 2006 16:27

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One thing that the Coke/Pepsi pesticide debate has thrown up is a wealth of so-called experts giving their opinion on how best to handle the furore.

Naturally, the two soft drinks giants must be incredibly grateful to have all these tips after the event. But before I give you what I think is my favourite piece of advice on this situation, let me wade in with my opinion, which is this:

Never forget that India - like China - is totally different to any other market on this planet. What may have worked in the past might not necessarily work here. The rewards offered in India are potentially unlike any we’ve known, but so is the market.

And the winner of the best nugget to help Coke and Pepsi has to go to this, anonymous, head of an Indian marketing consultants: “The best way to handle controversies is to not allow them to develop in the first place.”

Comments on this blog post

Coke and Pepsi have been making mistakes from the day they entered India and they still do. Sometimes I wonder whether they are in the CSD business for the long term. 1. Coke tried to bend the fundametallly seasonal CSD market into a seasonal market. Did they achieve that? If not, why don't they have a drink for the "unseason". 2. Any Indian businessman knows Govt. has been a spender for several DECADES. They give into salary hikes, give subsidies for the sake of elections, low tax threshhold etc. Will any prudent business person try to convince the govt. to LOWER taxes? Coke and Pepsi increased sales and paid higher taxes. State and Central Govt. was happy. 3. What is the expereince of CEOs of Coke and Pepsi in the Indian Beverage market? CSDs have been in India for over 80 years. 4. When you dig a borewell you should look around you. Companies use not more than 30hp for the sunk wells. If you sink a 200 hp borewell every 400 kms in India, who would not notice it? 5. Fountain system was introduced in India 6 years. Wonder who planned the logistics. Where do get water for the fountains? Given a chance they would have sunk a borewell at every fountain installation. Many more to ask.......


V&co, India

Good advice, but the issue is how. This controversy first surfaced three years ago, when the Center for Science and the Environment clearly indicated that it was targeting foreign firms because it would get publicity for its efforts to call attention to the parlous state of ground water contamination in Italy. Coke and Pepsi failed to take the hint and kept their heads in the sands. Now the issue resuraces and this time every demogogic nationalist politician will beat up on Coke and Pepsi as if that would provide safe drinking fluids for Indian consumers (which it will not).


Paul Garver, United States

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