Battle over Thai thirst begins

Battle over Thai thirst begins

Soft drinks for sale at a convenience store. Drinks makers are braced for intense competition this summer. PATIPAT JANTHONG
Soft drinks for sale at a convenience store. Drinks makers are braced for intense competition this summer. PATIPAT JANTHONG

Competition in Thailand's drinks industry is expected to heat up this summer, with producers set to inject as much as 4 billion baht into marketing campaigns to grab a share of the 157-billion-baht market.

Makers of soft drinks, energy drinks, ready-to-drink green tea and drinking water began launching their marketing campaigns two weeks ago, ahead of the hot season that normally begins in March.

The big names include Oishi, Ichitan, Tipco fruit juice, Singha drinking water, Sponsor, Carabao Dang, Est cola and Pepsi.

Campaigns include giving away passenger cars, gold, a trip with Korean boy band Got7 and a chance to watch a football match in Britain.

As in most markets, drinks sales in Thailand peak during the hot season.

At present, the market for carbonated soft drinks is estimated to be worth 50-51 billion baht, followed by drinking water (34 billion), ready-to-drink green tea (15 billion) and fruit juice (14 billion).

The rest is spread out among other categories such as functional drinks and herbal drinks.

A market analyst said that drinks firms have put heavy budgets for promotional campaigns this summer because they want to regain market shares which have been slowdown in the fourth quarter of last year.

Jesdakorn Ghosh, senior vice-president of Thai Drinks Co, the marketer of the Est cola brand owned by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said the drinks market is likely to grow again this year, as indicated by the rebound of spending at major supermarket chains in the first two months of the year.

The hot weather will encourage customers to consume more carbonated soft drink this year, she said.

Thai Drinks alone is setting aside 300 million baht for its three-month summer campaign through the end of May.

The campaign includes lucky draws to win a Toyota Yaris or an exclusive trip to Koh Samet with Got7.

Of the 51 billion baht in carbonated soft drink sales last year, the market share of Est cola was 10.2%. Pepsi-Cola led with 35%, with the remainder controlled by Coca-Cola and Big Cola.

Mrs Jesdakorn said that while last year's performance of Est improved a bit, she expects this summer's campaigns to increase market share significantly.

Somchai Ketchaikosol, marketing director of Pepsi-Cola Thai Trading Co Ltd, said his company plans to spend 300 million baht on marketing campaigns.

Spending for digital marketing will be increased by 35-40% this year to reach the younger generation of customers, he said.

Meanwhile, Osotspa Co Ltd, the distributor of M-150 energy drink, launched an advertising campaign last week with four famous folk singers to become presenters of M-150.

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