Soft drink war fizzes as Pepsi, Est duke it out

Soft drink war fizzes as Pepsi, Est duke it out

Ms Jesdakorn, left, hopes actor Jirayu 'James' Tangsrisuk, middle, will appeal to Gen Z consumers.
Ms Jesdakorn, left, hopes actor Jirayu 'James' Tangsrisuk, middle, will appeal to Gen Z consumers.

Thailand's 56-billion-baht carbonated soft drink war is heating up, with Pepsi and Est competing head-on to win market share.

Siremorn Supachanya, chief marketing officer of Suntory PepsiCo Beverage (Thailand) Co (SPBT), the distributor of beverages under the Suntory and PepsiCo trademarks, said the company is set to splurge 400 million baht on a comprehensive campaign and promotional activities to boost sales during the summer season, the peak period for the soft drink market.

In addition, the company is planning a major launch for a new version of Mirinda soft drink in the second quarter this year, in line with its parent company's quest to build a new image of the soda.

The company tentatively introduced Mirinda Green Cream Flavor to the market in January after slowing down its promotional activities for its green carbonated soft drink for several years.

It also resumed marketing of 7 Up lemon-lime carbonated soft drink in the middle of this month by launching 7 Up Free, the sugar-free drink with zero colouring and caffeine on the Thai market.

Such activities are in response to Gen Z consumers, who now account for 19% of Thailand's population and are open to new things and healthy trends.

According to Nielsen, the carbonated soft drink industry in Thailand was estimated to be worth 56 billion baht in 2019, up 12% over the previous year.

Of the total carbonated soft drink industry, 71% belonged to cola drinks, 23% flavoured drinks and the remaining 6% to the lemon-lime segment.

Sales of all carbonated soft drinks grew by 15.5% last year, outpacing the overall industry's growth of 12%.

Ms Siremorn attributed the growth of Thailand's carbonated soft drinks mainly to the hot weather and proactive marketing activities by the operators.

She said the company remains uncertain whether the domestic carbonated soft drinks industry will enjoy double-digit growth this year, citing the economic slowdown and the Covid-19 outbreak, which may prompt customers to stay at home.

Nonetheless, SPBT expects double-digit sales growth this year.

Jesdakorn Ghosh, vice-president of marketing for Thai Drinks Co, the producer of Est soft drink, said the company plans to spend 80 million baht to promote its cola products this year, focusing on boosting consumption of Est cola soft drinks in returnable glass bottles.

The company hired four well-known actors -- Jirayu "James" Tangsrisuk, Warintorn "Great" Panhakarn, Pakorn "Boy" Chatborirak and Teeradetch "Alek" Metawarayut -- as presenters to tap their fan clubs totalling a combined 10 million.

With these strategies, the company aims to boost consumption opportunities in the food service channel for Est cola brand.

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