Q] It’s been one year since you launched the ‘Bottles for Change’ initiative to support better plastic management. What kind of impact have you seen over the past year? We actually started our plastic management initiative about 4-5 years ago by targeting schools across Mumbai. Our message to the school kids was that plastic should not be discarded as waste but should in fact be recycled. Since then, we have been doing a lot of work in the area of plastic recycling but it was only last year that we gave it the name ‘Bottles for Change’. Today, while everyone is talking about the need to ban plastic and the harm it is causing the environment, the reality is that there is no alternative to plastic. The main objective behind the Bottles for Change initiative was to stop making plastic the villain and instead create sustainable solutions that are based on recycling. As a brand that uses plastic extensively in product packaging, we also wanted to make that effort to create a positive change in the way consumers use plastic. Our messaging is clear – we don’t want people to feel guilty about using plastic. We want them to use it, but at the same time be responsible enough to participate in the recycling effort.
Q] Considering that ‘Bottles for Change’ is all about driving a behavioural change, what steps are you taking to drive behavioural change? Currently, we are working towards educating housing societies, neighbourhoods, school managements and corporate organisations about how they can separate plastic material from other regular waste and help in the recycling process. The one core message we are passing on to consumers is the need to clean plastic before giving it to the garbage collector. It is important for consumers to know that people in the value chain such as scavengers will not pick up plastic content that is dirty as they do not get enough value for that. We have worked to make the entire collection process seamless by aligning consumers, garbage collectors and vendors who collect and recycle waste plastic material. At the moment, we are testing this initiative in two wards – K East and K West in Mumbai. Since last year, we have reached out to 150,000 people across the city through awareness camps, our website and email communication. We have enrolled over 600 schools and more than 600 housing societies in this effort. In time, we will replicate Bottles for Change across the wards in Mumbai and eventually take it to other metros in the country. One thing we are clear about is that we will not use the Bisleri name or branding towards this effort. We don’t want to leverage this effort for brand building because we believe this is our responsibility. We have made an awareness film that we plan to release shortly. We also have plans to launch an app for Mumbai’s citizens to join our effort in managing plastic better. Our vision is to create a future with no plastic-filled dump yards.
Q] Your campaign Har Pani Ki Bottle Bisleri Nahi featuring the camels as protagonists has turned quite a few heads. How has the campaign helped overcome the challenges posed by fake products in the market? We have been affected by this whole issue of genuine versus fake Bisleri for quite a while now. We wanted to address the issue of availability while also talking to the consumer who uses the word ‘Bisleri’ for a bottle of water without actually referring to the brand. The thing you need to understand though is that we are selling water at the end of the day, so you cannot claim that your brand’s water is better than the others. What we had to leverage was the consumer trust placed in the brand name. The objective of this campaign really was to influence the consumers, enabling them to recognise the value of the Bisleri brand. So we zeroed in on the clutter-breaking idea of using camels to drive home a very simple message that underlines brand trust. One of the big wins from this ad is that the retailer has become very conscious that now he can no longer convince the consumer to pick up another brand instead of Bisleri. The consumer too has learned that he/she can demand Bisleri and not accept whatever the retailer sells.
Q] How has the campaign impacted sales for the brand? We have seen a significant jump of about 25% in our sales figures since we launched the campaign. In certain markets, we have seen more than a 30% jump.
Q] What was the budget allocated to this campaign? So far, we have spent around Rs 40-45 crore on this campaign and we will continue to keep it running for a while since we are seeing a really positive impact. We have also picked up properties this year like the Indian Premier League and the World Cup. In addition, you will have seen us associating with properties on-ground like the Tata Mumbai Marathon or the Indian Super League. We want consumers to know that wherever they need hydration, they will find Bisleri.
Q] In the bottled water market, what is the market share Bisleri holds? As a category, bottled water is dominated largely by local players. In the organised sector, we are leaders with 65% market share. Our current vision is that when the consumer demands Bisleri, he must get Bisleri. We are therefore working on alternate channels to reach the consumer, including the directto-home option. We don’t want to leave the consumer at the mercy of the retailer.
Q] Last summer, Fonzo was a big focus for the brand. Are you seeing a good response to the product in the market since then? Well, Bisleri continues to take up about 80% of our attention and our spends. Currently, Fonzo’s availability is city-focused and we want to ramp up its distribution in the smaller towns before we introduce new flavours.
Q] In our last interview, you mentioned that Bisleri is working towards driving its revenue up to Rs 3,000 crore by 2020. Would you say that brand is well on its way to that number? While I won’t share our turnover numbers, I would say we have almost reached that figure this year.