Max is the new buzzword at PepsiCo. The beverages major has launched a cola drink that offers more fizz and punch, but no sugar. Though PepsiCo already has a cola drink in the low-calorie segment, Diet Pepsi, with the launch of Pepsi Max, it wants to primarily target urban Indian men, in the age group of 25-35, who are increasingly seeking a healthier lifestyle.
The `10,000-crore branded beverages market in India recently saw a new entrant – Pepsi Max. The nosugar cola drink, packed with more strength, fizz and punch, is aimed at tapping calorie-conscious urban customers, especially men. The drink, in fact, provides an alternative to consumers in the ‘diet’ category.
With the launch of Pepsi Max, the beverages major attempts to reinvent itself in the diet cola category and reach out to a wider consumer base that has so far remained untapped.
Unlike the regular Pepsi, which targets consumers in all age groups, with its primary focus on the youth, and Diet Pepsi, which caters specifically to calorieconscious women, Pepsi Max targets urban Indian men, in the 25-35 age group, who are becoming increasingly health-conscious and seeking healthier options On Pepsi Max’s target audience, Sandeep Singh Arora, executive vice-president , marketing, Cola, PepsiCo India, says, “Pepsi Max targets urban consumers in the 25-35 years, who aspire for a thrilling and exciting life, enjoying every moment and looking to get more out of life. They are seeking a strong attitude quotient while choosing beverage options, are fitness- conscious but not willing to compromise on taste.”
He adds, “Pepsi Max offers consumers more cola stimulation, with an added advantage of ‘no sugar’, giving consumers an ultimate cola experience.”
Globally, diet beverages are associated with health-conscious women. PepsiCo has positioned Max as a drink with attitude and intensity in order to make it more appealing to men. “Diet Pepsi seems like a product one would have only when one is concerned about sugar. That’s not the case with Pepsi Max. With Max, we are injecting a lot more cola attitude and imagery that will appeal to a wider set of consumers. We are not just targeting a small number of diet cola drinkers, but also those who are consuming regular drinks,” Arora reasons.
PepsiCo has in fact tried to position Pepsi Max and Diet Pepsi differently, so that one does not eat into the share of the other and lead to market cannibalisation. “PepsiMax targets urban young adults, who want to live in a world where nothing is held back – where everything is bigger, better and brighter! The Pepsi Max drinker works hard and plays harder and believes in getting more out of every moment. Max stimulates the ‘Max It’ generation to live each moment with intensity and live out their passions to the limit,” says Arora.
Diet Pepsi, on the other hand, promises consumers the thrill of a regular Pepsi in less than one calorie. “In today’s context, Diet Pepsi suits the needs of urban consumers, especially women, who are increasingly seeking healthier options, yet wanting to have fun in their lives. A premium brand that is chic, cool and refreshing, its brand proposition is – ‘Diet Pepsi, Less Than One Calorie, Go Play’,” Arora adds.
Maximising Brand Awareness
To create widespread awareness about Pepsi Max, launched in August this year, PepsiCo India undertook a 360-degree marketing plan with ‘disruption’ at its core. A vital component in the marketing of Pepsi Max is outdoor campaigning – greeting customers with larger-than-life building wraps and huge Pepsi Max bottles, among other Things. Arora says, “The outdoor campaign has the Pepsi Max bottle as the dominating element, with the message ‘Maximum Kick, No Sugar’. This iconic visual has been used in a variety of formats – billboards, specially shaped pole kiosks strategically placed in high-traffic zones, markets, malls and other catchment areas. We have used outdoor as an eye-catching reminder to drive buzz around our campaign.”
Avoiding the big-bang launch for a niche product, the company, instead, planned to launch the product in a phased manner – starting from Delhi-NCR and gradually extending to other markets.
Pepsi One: A Case of Misplaced Identity A few years ago, Pepsi One – an alternative to Diet Pepsi – was launched. However, it did not do well in the Indian market. PepsiCo tried to rework on Pepsi One’s image, but the product could not attract enough customers.
Analysts say that the product failed due to the advertisement campaigns, which did not explain what Pepsi One was all about. An initial slogan, “Only one has it all,” neither told consumers that Pepsi One was a diet drink nor said anything about its taste. A second slogan, “True cola taste. One calorie,” confused consumers, who could not tell what made it different from Diet Pepsi.
Later, PepsiCo realised that it was better to be direct and simple and again amended the tagline to “Too good to be one calorie”. The new advertising still avoided the word “diet” – the soft-drink company’s claim was that Pepsi One’s sweet taste was closer to that of a regular cola. Eventually, however, PepsiCo decided to discontinue the product.
Will max write a success story?
Calling the launch of Pepsi Max a defining moment for the cola industry in India, Punita Lal, executive director, marketing, PepsiCo India, says, “Pepsi Max is one of Brand Pepsi’s greatest international success stories that has driven growth and rapidly built market share. With the launch, Brand Pepsi further strengthens its imagery leadership in the cola category, by offering consumers a beverage with a higher cola kick, more fizz, punch and an added advantage of ‘no sugar’.”
Exuding confidence about the success of Pepsi Max, Lal says, “We are sure that with its unique, edgy imagery and unbeatable ‘Maximum Kick, No Sugar’ experience, Pepsi Max will soon become a ‘cool reference brand’ for young adults, while heralding a new segment in the cola category leading to category expansion.”
She further says that though the no-sugar category is currently small, it is poised for growth. “With the variety-seeking consumer becoming more health conscious, products such as Max are here to stay,” Lal Concludes.
Can a low-calorie soft drink sell without being called “diet”? That remains the question for PepsiCo, which had purposely shunned the term for its one-calorie cola, Pepsi One, which failed to impress the Indian Customer.
While PepsiCo is confident about the success of its new drink, only time will tell whether it meets the same fate as Pepsi One or emerges as a leader in the no-sugar, healthy drink category.