Tata Consumer Products Ltd (TCPL) is all set to acquire drinking water brand Bisleri for a sum of Rs 6,000-7,000 crore. The current management will continue for two years according to the deal.
The deal comes after almost three decades after Bisleri International chairman Ramesh Chauhan sold soft drink brands Thums Up, Gold Spot and Limca to Coca-Cola.
As per an Economic Times report, Chauhan says that The Tata Group "will nurture and take care of it even better," although selling Bisleri was still a "painful" decision. "I like the Tata culture of values and integrity and hence made up my mind despite the aggression shown by other interested buyers."
Chauhan, 82, is selling Bisleri because he has no successor who can work on expanding the brand further. His daughter Jayanti is not keen.
Bisleri brand's turnover is estimated at Rs 2,500 crore with profit at Rs 220 crore for FY23 as per Tofler data.
Bisleri International owns a premium packaged water brand - Vedica and four fizzy drinks - Spyci, Limonata, Fonzo, and Bisleri Soda.
Bisleri’s evolving advertising
As a brand, Bisleri has been synonymous to the packaged water category. Its advertising strategy has evolved over the years that includes building the packaged drinking water category, convincing that Bisleri water is safe to drink to battling the massive issue of counterfeiting.
To build distinct imagery and stand out amidst the rising competition, the company rolled out a 360-degree brand campaign for Bisleri in the late 90s with the tagline ‘There is just one Bisleri’.
The company also leveraged television to communicate the product philosophy and reinforce the message that Bisleri was “pure and safe.” Through the 90s, the focus was to build the category and reach as many consumers as possible.
Once established, Bisleri faced a massive issue of counterfeiting. In 2017, Bisleri went local with 14 different languages in its packaging. The brand launched labels in regional languages across India in order to connect with the local people in different markets and help them to identify and relate to the brand in languages they understand. It would also help consumers to recognize the genuine Bisleri bottle and avoid buying counterfeit products or products which spell differently but look the same.
In 2019, it created a viral campaign showing camels drinking Bisleri water.
The brand also hopped on to the digital bandwagon and has built the brand across social media platforms.
It is to be noted that Bisleri was built by a steady team which was headed by Anjana Ghosh—who had joined the company in 2006—and whose stint as the director of marketing and business development of Bisleri International lasted for 16 years and two months. Ghosh moved on in July this year.
In an interview with Storyboard18, Ghosh spoke of how during her 16-year tenure her major learning was to keep consumers at the heart of the business.
“Consumers must love your company and your brand for how you make them feel, what you do for the community at large, and not what you say through your various communications. He or she must love the brand, not just consume it,” she says.
Brand Bisleri should stay
Harish Bijoor, founder of brand consultancy Harish Bijoor Consults, tells Storyboard18 that this is an acquisition of big volume proportion for The Tata brand.
“It means and represents a serious intent in the category of water. Water is one thing that is needed by all and one thing that is an endangered item in terms of potability. This buy represents the Himalayan niche widened to a mass play Bisleri terrain,” he adds.
Bijoor emphasises that Bisleri is a strong brand that represents clean and safe drinking water in India.
“I do believe if there was an English dictionary based out of India, it would have Bisleri in it as a synonym for water. The Tatas must retain the branding. In the water category, Bisleri is what Tata is in the category of trust in all other categories it represents,” he concludes.