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Namrata Singh & Partha Sinha, May 17, 2019: The Times of India
To the lovers of colas, who missed local brands that took the place of Coca-Cola when it was forced to leave Indian shores in 1977, Campa Cola is back. Campa Cola was created in the 1970s by the same Pure Drinks Group that had pioneered the Indian soft drinks industry by introducing Coca-Cola in India in 1949. They were the sole manufacturers and distributors of Coca-Cola till the 1970s. After Coca-Cola left India, Pure Drinks Group and Campa Beverages started Campa Cola and dominated the Indian soft drinks industry in the absence of foreign competition.
With a slogan ‘The Great Indian Taste’, Campa Cola appealed to nationalistic fervour back then. Today, Jaywantjit Singh — a member of the fourth generation of the Singh family, which founded Pure Drinks Group — is driving the revival of the desi brand in a big way to have a national presence, in the face of stiff competition from both Coca-Cola India and PepsiCo.
Jaywantjit, the greatgrandson of founder Sardar Mohan Singh, is managing operations for the brand to bring it back in the mainstream. Currently, Campa is available in almost 80% of the states with 13 franchises across different territories in Jammu & Kashmir, UP, Haryana, Punjab, five North East states, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar.
“We have a few franchising plants across India, catering to tier-2 and -3 cities, mainly in the north and northeast markets. We are now setting up a bottling unit in Silvassa with a capacity of 600 bottles per minute, which will cater to the western markets. We also have a presence in Nepal and are looking at southern markets like Chennai. In a way, we are gradually moving to tier-1 cities as well. We are doing about 4 million cases (each has 24 bottles of 250ml),” said Singh. After the exit of Coca-Cola, through the late 1970s and ’80s, another group that dominated the soft drinks scene was Parle, with leading brands like Thums Up, Gold Spot and Limca. These were later sold to The Coca-Cola Company on its return to India, in 1993. Once Coca-Cola was back, followed by the entry of rival PepsiCo, local brands either diminished or got taken over.
Samsika Marketing Consultants CMD Jagdeep Kapoor said Campa Cola has three opportunities — it has a strong brand equity in the north, a clear nostalgic value among those who have grown up with the brand and, if the taste is consistent, it will be a good trigger for old memories. However, the big challenge would be its positioning, said Kapoor.
“The other three cola brands — Thums Up, Coca-Cola, Pepsi — have a fairly large presence in the market. Campa Cola would need to position the brand in such a way that it appeals to today’s generation as well. If a brand is contemporary, it will succeed. The brand will have to maintain a good balance between the past and the present, a balance between nostalgia and young aspirations,” said Kapoor.
Campa Cola is being retailed both in modern trade stores like Reliance Fresh and DMart, as also general stores. The emergence of PET bottles and cans is said to be a key reason for Campa Cola’s return. In addition to cola, Campa Cola is also available in flavours like orange, lemon, lime & lemon, jeera soda and fizzy apple.