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How Coke's growth got a RED boost

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advertising and marketing branding and design business (general) strategy process industry beverage industry The RED plan covers visi-coolers, the availability of beverages and activation. Vinay Kamath Chennai, Feb. 11 It's almost lunch time and Mohideen Noble is welcoming hungry patrons who are coming in droves to his Thalapakkatu Biryani outlet close to the bustling Egmore railway station in Chennai, no doubt attracted by the strong aromas emanating from his restaurant.

Entering, you can't miss seeing a mammoth visi-cooler stuffed to the brim with various brands that Coca-Cola India puts out, the latest one being its recent launch, Nimbu Fresh. The huge fridge, Mr Noble says, is driving sales as customers with parched throats can see and pick a brand of their choice. But, as he adds, it is Coke that sells most, as customers like to drown the spicy flavours of the biryani with a cold cola. The visi-cooler can take 30 cases (one case: 24 bottles of 8 ounces each) of soft drinks and on a good day, Mr Noble says, he can sell 10 cases. Coca-Cola ranks Mr Noble's biryani outlet as a diamond one, in its distribution parlance, that can glug down over 800-1,000 cases a year. And, it's outlets like these that are driving Coca-Cola India's sales, helping it post a 22 per cent growth in the fourth quarter of the last calendar year. And, as Mr T. Krishnakumar, CEO, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, says, the company saw 13 quarters of consistent growth, the last 10 in double digits. But growth in India for one of the world's top brands has not come just because the market was good but because of a RED boost that it gave the brand in the market place. Right Execution daily RED, or right execution daily', is a distribution blueprint that Coke put in place in 2006. It is paying off for Coca-Cola and helping it post 10-15 per cent incremental sales. RED, Mr Krishnakumar explains, is nothing but the power of routine. Many companies falter at the stage of execution and a Coke old-timer recalls that the earlier focus was on just making the brands available at the retailer outlet through a conventional distributorled model with no control of how the brand was displayed nor on what else the retailer dumps in a Coke visi-cooler. Now Coke's RED execution done in big cities through direct distribution by the company is followed by the sales teams of both its company-owned and franchiseowned bottlers. Essentially, this plan covers its visi-coolers, the availability of beverages and activation. From push to pull system We moved from a push system to a pull system where consumers ask for the brand, adds Mr Krishnakumar. As a member of the Coke sales force explained to this writer on a field visit which covered modern trade, small kiranas, a bakery and a restaurant, it is important that the

brand be visible and appealing to a potential customer. The Coke force works with retailers to ensure the cooler is in prime position, especially in outlets that exclusively stock only Coca-Cola brands. Apart from ensuring availability of all its beverage brands, the sales team also sees that signages are as per a plan. For example, in an eating outlet, as in this biryani restaurant, there would be combo shots of food and a sparkling beverage to induce customers. (This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 12, 2010