Est cola gets B500m push

Est cola gets B500m push

Jesdakorn: Est is No.1 'refreshing' brand
Jesdakorn: Est is No.1 'refreshing' brand

Thai Drinks Co, the non-alcoholic drinks subsidiary of Thai Beverage Group, is spending 500 million baht this year on marketing activities to boost sales of Est cola, cashing in on a brighter outlook for carbonated drinks.

About half of the budget will be used to promote the company's products during this summer season, said Jesdakorn Ghosh, the company's senior vice-president.

"Thailand's carbonated drink market is expected to fare better than last year," she said. "We aim to grow our sales to outpace the overall market's growth rate."

Thailand's carbonated soft drink market shrank by 4.1% last year to 50 billion baht because of cooler-than-expected weather, poor consumer spending power and several alternative drink choices available in the market, Mrs Jesdakorn said.

Est is the only soft drink brand that recorded growth, with its market share increasing to 10.5% last year from 9.8% in 2016.

Nielsen, the market research company, said sales of Est cola rose 2.8% last year, far above the 0.8% growth of Pepsi.

Sales of Coca-Cola fell 7% last year.

Mrs Jesdakorn said that while the overall market contracted 4.1% last year, the company saw a gradual improvement of the carbonated soft drink market in the fourth quarter, when the market only dropped 1%.

"Last year was a good one for Est cola," Mrs Jesdakorn said. "Based on our market survey, we found that Est had the highest score among young consumers in every aspect, from cool brand to refreshing brand."

She said the company's efforts this summer will continue driving Est cola to surge in the carbonated soft drink industry, driven particularly by the company's introduction of Bingsu, based on the popular Korean-style shaved ice dessert.

Mrs Jesdakorn said the company is also set to export Est soft drink products to neighbouring countries this year, starting with Cambodia, where Oishi green tea, sold under Thai Beverage Group, has shown success.

Thai Drinks has studied the possibility of exporting Est to neighbouring countries over the last several years, saying now the time is right thanks to the strong network of ThaiBev, Thailand's largest food and drink company, and the group's strong brands.

Thai Drinks said earlier it planned to build a bottling factory in Myanmar to double sales to 50 billion baht by 2020.

The plan is part of ThaiBev's 2020 Vision, which aims to achieve sales of 330 billion baht by 2020.

ThaiBev said on Thursday that it was getting close to fulfilling its 2020 vision to become a sustainable Asean leader after completing four major acquisitions worth 200 billion baht in the first quarter of its fiscal 2018 (October to December 2017).

The acquisitions comprised a 53.6% stake in Vietnam's largest beer player, Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation, worth 156 billion baht; a 75% stake in Myanmar's largest whisky player, the Grand Royal Group, for 25 billion; a franchise agreement worth 11.4 billion to operate 252 KFC restaurants in Thailand; and a 76% stake in hot pot and Thai food restaurant operator Spice of Asia Co for 115 million.

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