Coca-Cola may target schools in efforts to catch consumers young


Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd, the local unit of the American beverages maker The Coca-Cola Co., is working on a strategy to catch Indian consumers young.

The Atlanta-based maker of Coca-Cola, Thums Up and Sprite aerated drinks, which has so far restrained itself and its bottling partners from selling its beverages at schools as part of its global policy, is now taking a re-look.

“We are evaluating how to do it. This has to be in agreement with our global headquarters. And, we’ll certainly propose this,” T. Krishnakumar, president, Coca-Cola India and South-West Asia, told Mint.

Coca-Cola’s decision to look at schools as a potential point of sale comes with the fast-changing portfolio of the world’s largest beverage maker that now has a lot of options that are not carbonated.

According to Krishnakumar, Coca-Cola will look at selling in schools enhanced hydration products like Aquarius Glucocharge, nutritious product Minute Maid Vitingo, fruit juice variants of Minute Maid and dairy products, a segment the company is planning to re-enter at end the of this year.

According to data published by the ministry of human resource development in September 2012, there were 1.39 million schools in India till 30 September 2010. Of these, there were 740,000 primary schools, 120,000 secondary schools, 440,000 upper primary schools and 71,814 senior secondary schools. With schools, Coca-Cola’s distribution will get a massive boost. At present, Coca-Cola products are sold at 2.6 million of the country’s estimated 9 million retail outlets.

Globally, Coca-Cola follows a strict policy of not selling its aerated products in schools across 200 countries, where its products are sold. According to its global website, the company does not sell any of its beverages in primary schools. However, it does have a limited presence at secondary schools in some countries, but that is restricted to water, juices and some of its regular beverages, including low-calorie variants.

With sales of carbonated drinks falling fast in most parts of the world, Coca-Cola has switched its focus to become a “total beverage company” with a portfolio that is not dependent only on its core carbonated beverages.

In the last 15 years, the contribution of carbonated drinks to Coca-Cola’s global revenue has dropped to 70% from 90%, and is expected to fall further to 50% by 2025.