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The story behind the Jiomart Partner – Coca Cola partnership

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How Coca-Cola experienced a 5 times growth in its business post its collaboration with Jiomart Partner

Mumbai: Why is it important for brands and retailers to work together? Well, it all boils down to the eternal quest for market growth and expansion — the holy grail of success in the retail business. With technology disrupting traditional ways of doing business and shifts in consumer habits spurring quick changes in the retail industry, it has become more important than ever for both brands and retailers to constantly innovate and look for the next opportunity.

Also, with competition heating up India’s food & grocery retail industry, even the Goliaths have to fight tooth and nail with the quick-footed Davids — young start-ups and upstarts that are more hungry and determined to carve their own place in the market. It is not uncommon to see young start-ups nipping at the heels of the traditional heavy-weight players. In such a hot-house market scenario where brands and retailers have to strain their sinews and ‘earn’ their growth, going it alone can lead to many missed opportunities or even missing the bus altogether. 

But capturing market share and winning over the new set of consumers is easier said than done. Fortunately, brands and retailers know these home truths and the hard realities of the market. No surprise that they are increasingly striving to forge more enduring relationships that can help them to navigate the market maze and even beat the odds at hitting the home run. 

By collaborating, brands and retailers can reach out to new customers and expand their reach in the market. Retailers can help brands distribute their products more effectively by leveraging their existing distribution networks. Brands can benefit from retailers’ expertise and resources, such as data analytics and omnichannel capabilities, to enhance their operations and offerings. Together, they can collaborate on marketing and promotional activities to drive sales and raise brand awareness besides helping each other to tap into new revenue streams, reduce costs, and improve overall profitability.

At the end of the day, both brands and retailers work for the shoppers. And when they come together, they can create a more seamless and integrated shopping experience for customers. By gaining a deeper understanding of consumer preferences and buying habits, they can tailor their offerings to meet customer needs better. The edge in retail business comes from acting on consumer insights and collaboration helps brands and retailers to jointly act to gain the first mover advantage and capture a bigger slice of the market. At the 15th edition of India Food Forum, many young and battle-hardened brands and retailers came out swinging to share their storied success stories of collaboration and the magic that spun from their partnerships. We bring you 10 outstanding success stories of collaboration between food and FMCG brands and retailers in building new consumption/ product categories or transforming a traditional category with innovation.

Coca-Cola and JioMart Partner create a splash with live streaming the launch of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar drink

Coke’s business was growing 2x in India but it spiked 5x across the Jiomart partner platform and the spurt in growth rippled through the entire coca-cola brand trademark. In the b2b drinks segment, its cans portfolio grew 15x year-to-date, which is phenomenal given the fact that cans were earlier seen as more of a premium product offering.

Every example of a brand and retailer partnership is like a story with many exciting pages to flip through one after the other. But the collaboration between Coca-Cola and JioMart Partner is more of a memorable journey that both started together. On 6th October 2021, Coca-Cola had a joint business planning with JioMart Partner where both sides talked business. Leading the Coca-Cola team was Sanket Ray, President of India and Southwest Asia for The Coca-Cola Company. Manish Sabnis, Chief Business Officer Jiomart B2B Grocery, Reliance Retail was the other interlocutor driving this business talkathon.

Elements of the collaboration 

After banging heads together, it was decided that Coca-Cola should chalk out a future-back strategy for paving the growth pathway to the launch of the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar product in India. “It was the first instance in India where a plan was worked out for doing a future-back innovation for a product along with live streaming of the launch itself,” says Harish Iyer, Customer/ Commercial Manager, Coca-Cola.

From 6th Oct. 2021 till 25th Jan 2022 – a journey lasting 90 days – the two teams collaborated to create the first-ever e-B2B live stream for the launch of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in India. It was a completely new way of doing things in the sense that live streaming and social commerce are more identified with the B2C domain but here it was used as a B2B tool which, in itself, was an innovation and the first-of-its-kind experiment in this sector.

“What we knew with fair certainty was that our merchant base was using devices that showed heavy use of data and video as a tool was a pretty familiar concept. We also believed that there would be enough demand for the new product but it had to be somehow unleashed. So, we turned around the entire concept of ‘video on app’ and approached it in a way so that there was no steep learning curve for our merchants. The question before us was to create a property that was ‘click from your app’ to the video to ‘click to buy’. We were able to accomplish this task during the 90-day period between 6th Oct 2021 and 25th Jan. 2022 and the results thereafter were simply mind-blowing,” says Laxman Pai, General Manager – Head of Brand Engagement & Alliances, JioMart Partner.

More than 1.5 lakh merchants in the JioMart network participated in Coca-Cola Zero Sugar “live commerce” session hosted on JioMart Partner App for the product’s official launch. The live session was viewed across over 20 lakh digital assets put up by JioMart across the country. 

To achieve all of this success, JioMart Partner did not stint on efforts. “We deputed a lot of contact agents from our field force to educate the merchants before and after the event on why they should buy the product. The efforts paid off in spades as the response in terms of demand was phenomenal not only from the metros but also in the far-flung areas like Chomu in Rajasthan, and many places in the northeast. The demand that came in through the live commerce session and what came later in response to the event was really awesome,” says Laxman.

For both the brand and retailer, the collaboration proved to be a momentous occasion – engaging with lakhs of kirana merchants across the country and bringing them on a common platform at the same time for the exclusive launch of Coca-Cola’s Zero Sugar drink. “Also noteworthy was the excitement among our merchants who witnessed and participated in this first-of-its-kind event, reinforcing our commitment to digitally enable our kirana partners,” notes Laxman.

Outcome 

“The live commerce broadcast in fact went much beyond the launch of the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar drink and it generated a halo effect for the entire Coca-Cola trademark. Until then our business was growing 2X in India; it spiked to 5X across the JioMart Partner platform and the growth rippled through the entire Coca-Cola brand trademark in the year to date. In the B2B drinks segment, our cans portfolio has grown 15X YTD, which is phenomenal given the fact that cans were earlier seen as more of a premium product offering,” says Harish. 

As a result of the collaboration, Coca-Cola has been able to develop the cans category as a complementing business model for the B2B segment and the entire general trade. “Finally, I will say that the live stream event not just created an engagement with us as two partners but it helped to bring in a third partner as well as co-creators – by far the biggest, and that’s our kirana partners,” adds Harish, emphasizing that the success of the live stream launch was co-created by CocaCola, JioMart Partner and the kiranas coming together and that the company is looking to further strengthen this three-pronged partnership.

Conclusion 

The fact that over a million kiranas participated shows that live commerce can be used as a very empowering tool not only in the consumer space but in the B2B universe as well. It allowed the kiranas across the country to participate in real-time at the CocaCola Zero Sugar launch and learn about the product and its potential first-hand. And if the future of commerce is going to be conversational, why not bring Indian businesses to the forefront of this model!

This article first appeared in Progressive Grocer Magazine February 2023 issue

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