Coca-Cola India has strengthened its distribution network in the rural markets faster than pre-Covid-19 pandemic era. In the non-summer months, the brand wants to keep up this pace. The beverage company has given a special focus on expanding distribution through the general trade channel, placing a significant emphasis on rural markets.
Speaking to a leading newspaper, Business Line, Sundeep Bajoria, Vice President, India Franchise, Coca-Cola Company, said, “Currently, there are more than 4 million retailers carrying our products, up from just 2.7 million before the pandemic. One of the main drivers of the expansion has been Kirana stores. In order to improve kirana stores’ ability to sell beverages and assist them to tap into new profit margins, we have been closely collaborating with them.”
According to Bajoria, who was speaking about the company’s emphasis on the de-seasonalisation approach, “Historically, beverages were viewed from the perspective of the summer months in India. In actuality, we enter this season of celebrations and festivities as the summer months come to a close and last into December. We want to be sure that we are a part of India’s overall consumer and festival culture. We have therefore been actively working to develop the second season around the festivals by strengthening our ties with customers, retail partners, and distributors and expanding the relevance of our offerings.
The beverage industry giant is also looking for higher growth from rural markets due to growing electricity and rising smartphone usage in rural areas. We have had noticeably faster growth in the rural markets than in the urban. We have been actively working to meet the demands of rural consumers by providing them with the most pertinent packs at competitive prices. Rural home penetration of our goods is already higher than it was prior to the pandemic,” he said. In order for the company to influence consumer decisions and increase scale, Bajoria emphasised that modern trade and e-commerce platforms are essential.
Coca-Cola India has started utilising the chemists and pharmacies channel in the post-Covid era. At the same time, expanding the presence of its product portfolio in the wholesale channel has emerged as a top goal. Historically, just 20 per cent of wholesalers in India have been involved in the sale of beverages. “We have a new programme that was created just for the wholesale channel. In the last two years, this has allowed us to more than double the size of our wholesale network,” added Bajoria.
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