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Rehashed & Refreshed

BY Anjana Naskar

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Q] What was your reason to rebrand a product that was already quite popular in the market?
Rebranding is not always driven by negative feedback or poor performance. In the case of Jeeru, which had a strong brand equity in the Jeera Masala Soda category, there was a need for re-energising the organisation after 15 years. Despite Jeeru’s success, it was being associated with the local jeera category where competition was increasing. To achieve the vision of becoming a global brand and grow significantly, the brand values and positioning had to be revamped. The name change from Jeeru Masala Soda to J reflects the emerging trend of mixing masala in beverages, particularly popular among the youth. This rebranding positions Xotik Frujus as a trendsetter, and fosters a global brand identity. Consumer reactions to the move have been positive so far.

Q] Jeeru was popular due to its ethnic appeal, beverage quality, and word-of-mouth. Do you believe J can generate word-of-mouth like Jeeru?
We have retained the brand equity of Jeeru by incorporating ‘J by Jeeru’ in our new brand identity. This ensures that our existing Jeeru consumers still recognise and connect with the brand. However, the younger generation, particularly Gen Z and millennials, did not resonate with the Jeera category as it was associated with their mothers and grandmothers. For this youth segment, we introduced the brand identity, J. This allows us to engage both the youth and our existing consumers who appreciate the enhanced taste and health benefits of the new J variant, which now includes apple juice. By adopting this two-pronged strategy, we aim to cater to both consumer categories effectively and generate positive word-of-mouth.

Q] How do you plan to promote and establish Jeeru’s new identity? What is the allocated budget for the rebranding?
Our primary focus is to ensure widespread distribution of the new brand across major towns in India. We believe that visibility on store shelves is crucial for effective communication and brand recognition. To achieve this, we have increased our distribution network, aiming to reach around three and a half lakh outlets, compared to the one and a half lakh outlets that we have currently. Once we have established a strong presence, our communication strategy will commence. Initially, we will prioritise digital channels as they are popular among the youth, and this will be followed by below-the-line (BTL) activities. As our reach expands across India, we may consider outdoor advertising and eventually above-the-line (ATL) advertising in the coming years. This year, our investments will primarily focus on out-of-home (OOH) advertising and Digital platforms. Our budget allocation for the overall rebranding initiative aligns with these plans.

Q] Why isn’t TV part of your marketing mix?
Currently, TV is not included in our marketing mix due to its high cost. Making a TV ad and running it requires a significant budget, which may not be justifiable at this stage. Our distribution network is still expanding across India, and we are in the process of setting up additional manufacturing plants to improve product availability. Once our distribution and stock levels stabilise, we may consider incorporating TV advertising into our marketing strategy.

Q] What was your pitch to the design agency for the new logo?
Our pitch to the design team was to think outside the box and create a logo that sets us apart. We wanted to be different and unique in every aspect. Considering our brand name, Xotik, which means ‘out of the masses,’ we emphasised on the need to stand apart and set new trends. The design team suggested using one font as the brand name, and we instantly agreed as it resonated with our vision. Even the brand’s promoters, who had been associated with Jeeru for 15 years, felt that this was the right direction. Our branding with a single font is something that hasn’t been seen before, making it truly distinctive.

Q] Are you competing only in the ethnic drink category or do you plan to compete against bigger brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola? Do you have any plans to increase XOTIK’s market share in the overall beverage segment?
No, we don’t want to limit ourselves to the ethnic drink category or be seen as a local brand. Our goal is to compete with the major players in the world of Colas. 80% of the beverage category is ruled by the two top giants and that’s the space we want to get in. We want a significant presence in the beverage market, and get recognised and be able to compete on the main shelves, targeting the broader consumer base. Our focus is on expanding our market share and competing with the industry giants.

Q] What new product innovations are you planning to add to your portfolio?
Alongside our flagship brand Jeeru, we also have a range of still fruit drinks that are gaining popularity, such as Kala Khatta. We have increased our production capacity to meet the demand for these drinks. Moving forward, we aim to focus on innovation in the beverage industry. Our goal is to introduce new drinks every year that are unique and appealing to consumers. We want to explore fusions with a variety of fruits and create exotic flavors that stand out in the market. Our R&D team is actively working on developing these new drinks, and we anticipate launching two or three innovations annually.

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