Beverage Manufacturers Exploring Ready-To-Drink Category In India Amid COVID-19

Monday, June 29th, 2020 | 1804 Views

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the beverage industry has witnessed a significant shift in the purchasing preferences of consumers in India, with steady rise and strong inclination towards ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages. This shift has encouraged the beverage manufacturers to re-evaluate their innovation strategies and explore options to diversify their portfolios, says GlobalData.

According to GlobalData COVID-19 survey, almost 40 percent Indian consumers bought more quantity of juices and squashes than before while 37 percent bought more dairy beverages. The survey also reveals that 60 percent of consumers prefer packaged drinks compared to freshly prepared alternatives. This implies that even though packaged RTD beverage concept is not new, the restrictions on movement due to nationwide lockdown has encouraged the consumers to stockpile RTD beverages.

“India has increasingly been looked upon as a promising market for the RTD beverage category over the past few years as the consumption continues to rise across the country. Panic buying and stockpiling during COVID-19 has put RTD beverages in demand more than ever and forced beverage brands to consider alternative ways to align with the consumers’ priorities,” said Shagun Sachdeva, Consumer insights analyst at GlobalData.

Leading Indian beverages manufacturers such as Nestlé, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are forecast to be the worst hit due to the pandemic. All these players registered significant volume drops due to the shutdowns of malls, restaurants and cinemas amid the lockdown. In April 2020, Coca-Cola reported a five percent decline in unit case volume in bottling operations in India, due to the lockdown enforced from 23 March 2020. Therefore, companies have been under pressure to undertake measures for streamlining production and mitigate risk of losing consumers to competitors.

Sachdeva adds: “With multiple options of beverages, consumers have become more experimental and less loyal to brands, thereby compelling the manufacturers to continuously innovate to retain their consumers along with keeping affordability factor in mind.”

The recent RTD beverage launches will not only addresses consumers’ health concerns but also seems to capture the spirit of the times with the emotional value. For instance, beverage manufacturers are developing more personalised products targeting the distinct needs of specific consumer cohorts. However, brands need to strategise on how to retain their appeal post-COVID-19.

Sachdeva concludes: “While it is difficult to anticipate the full extent of the changes COVID-19 will trigger, beverage companies are trying their best to keep the category alive and vibrant while coping with the pandemic challenges.”


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