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In India, the battle for shares of the growing cola market is intense. But the target market of Indian consumers who might be interested in a Coke or Pepsi also are savvy, modern buyers, who are inundated with marketing communications in traditional channels like television. To reach them more effectively, Pepsi in India is therefore taking a different tack and making its cans and bottles the primary advertising channel.lo-res_mhhe024452-s

The most prominent example is one that PepsiCo has rolled out globally, namely, the appearance of branded emojis. By putting them on cans and bottles of Pepsi, the company encourages consumers to interact with the brand emotionally, because they can select the particular bottle that reflects their mood at the moment of purchase (e.g., happy, naughty, party). The emojis then spread into traditional advertising, such as television commercials that show the silly cartoon faces playing and having fun. But even without the link to the televised commercial, the packaging tells a story, with the added bonus of sparking strong visual appeal on shelves.

These bottles also feature a code that consumers can scan, entering them in a contest to win prizes that are designed to appeal to the target market, such as a trip to Ibiza or a practice session with cricket star Virat Kohli. Other products use slightly different packaging appeals. For example, Pepsi’s version of 7Up in India is called Revive, and the latest packaging features a full-length wrap, surrounding a distinctive blue glass bottle. According to Pepsi’s research, the notable packaging was the top reason consumers provided for why they first tried Revive.

The rationale behind this shift in perspective, putting packaging front and center of the marketing campaign, reflects a key realization by the chief marketing officer for Pepsi in India: “TV reach is minimal, but our bottles are everywhere.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is Pepsi in India so strongly focused on packaging strategies?
  2. Would this primary focus on packaging work in other countries where Pepsi is sold? Why or why not?

Source: Ravi Balakrishnan, “PepsiCo Betting on Packaging to Get an Edge in Cola Wars,” The Economic Times (India), March 30, 2016

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