Reliance Industries has recently re-launched the popular yesteryear beverage brand, Campa Cola. Though the industry's initial reaction to the acquisition of the brand (for ₹22 crore) in August last year was one of scepticism, brand valuation experts believe that reviving an iconic brand is not a bad idea at all. "Successful brands create equity and value. It remains intact for the stakeholders it was created for, even though it gets dusty over time if no investment is made," explains Ashish Mishra, MD, Interbrand India.
In fact, Mishra says that it is easy to buy such 'dusty' equities at a great deal and then revive them. Corporate history is replete with such instances and the most obvious example is Thums Up, which The Coca-Cola Company acquired from Parle Agro to eliminate competition for its flagship brand, Coke. The American beverage giant quickly realised the might of Thums Up and revived it. The brand, today, has the highest market share in the aerated beverages industry. "Campa Cola has residual equity. The company can leverage the residual equity and grow it further," agrees Raghu Vishwanath, MD, Vertebrand.
But Campa Cola was a rage through the eighties and early nineties. Its erstwhile loyalists today, would be in their fifties or sixties. Age has also made them a lot more health conscious and fizzy beverages are not on top of their grocery list. But the familiarity and trust that the brand enjoys could still play a role for the brand to make an entry into the homes of those mature consumers, believes Mishra of Interbrand. "Given the growing health concerns, trust emanating from nostalgia may not be a bad counter. Somehow the bad of the past seems better than the bad of today. At worst, it can be seen as a more familiar private label brand that has an opportunity of revival and even better payoff for the brand deal," he further explains.
However, what can't be ignored is that the brand has been relaunched at a time when over 65% of the population is below the age of 35 and doesn't relate to Campa Cola at all. The generation is also extremely calorie conscious. Cola consumption today, is largely restricted to the fast-food chains where the consumers typically like to have an aerated beverage with a pizza or a burger. Experts believe that Campa Cola will need to play on its 'Indianess' to strike a chord. "The brand enjoys a heritage value which will play to its advantage, but it also needs to rebuild it with a new set of advocates," says Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and angel investor.
Mathias says that the brand has to focus a lot more on Indian flavours (such as shikhanji, jaljeera etc) in order to build its might. He also says that while retailing out of the Reliance Retail stores would be the easiest bet, the brand also needs to invest in novel distribution methods in order to break into the bastion of Coke and Pepsi. "To build the reach of Pepsi and Coke will not be easy. Reliance will not just need to work with the traditional distributors, they will also have to use hub distributors to reach those kirana stores which may not be talking to a Pepsi or a Coke."
"If Campa-Cola focuses on innovative products such as juices or other healthier beverages, with their marketing muscle they definitely have a chance to create a dent," adds Vertebrand's Vishwanath.
Reliance's success story in its telecom business, Jio, despite being a late entrant gives confidence to industry experts that Campa Cola would be successful too.