The power of a brand lies in what resides in the minds and hearts of customers. However one can envisage how challenging it is to stay relevant even for the next minute. Then how successful brands survive? Borrowing the words of brand pundits either you reinforce your brand or revitalize it. Over the years numerous brands have undergone this. What if a let alone brand with limited marketing shows a colossal growth? How good will it be if a company own a Black Swan brand?
For Coca-Cola, it is indeed a blessing in disguise. In a period when consumers turn hostile towards carbonated beverages Thums Up which celebrated its 40th birthday a few days ago is growing strong. What amuses the pundits is the journey of Thums Up without much support from the company. During my B School days and even after that I have read that as a strategy Coca-Cola planned to withdraw the local brands Goldspot, Limca, and Thums Up which they acquired from Ramesh Chauhan in 1993. While GoldSpot and Limca had a sudden death, Thums Up was allowed a slow death. But, till today Coca-Cola was unable to eliminate Thums Up from its portfolio. Currently, the sales revenue of brand Thums Up is between Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 5,500 crore (approx) marching ahead to be a million dollar brand in sales by 2023. What made the Thunder Strong?
Thums Up, since its launch in 1977 had an image of a “Tough Man’s Cola”. This image/positioning ideally mirrored the personality of a consumer in the rural hinterland. The brand was for a matured and tough man with a sense of adventure. Thus the brand differentiated itself from the clutter. Even though several new advertisements were launched during this four decades of existence, the essence of the brand was never compromised. The tagline “Taste The Thunder” explains the identity of the brand which is unique. Even though the investment in marketing is very constrained for the brand, Coca-Cola succeeded in maintaining continuity in the brand meaning thereby reinforcing the brand.
To unleash the aspirational quotient of the brand, a new positioning “Mein Hum Toofani (Heroic) was launched last year. I should consider this as the first major change happened to the brand in its life. From a “Tough Man’s Cola” Thums Up now caters to a wider spectrum of consumers who like to unleash their heroic spirit. This is a careful preposition leveraging the trust and excitement people express towards the brand. Besides, this seems to be a more compelling Point of Difference the brand delivers.
Another interesting piece in the story is the brand was unbroken by competition. That’s why it took 40 years for a product innovation to happen under the brand Thums up. To me, Thums Up Charged the new innovation is also aligned perfectly with the brand image and so I hope it will enhance the brand relevance. It is premature to predict the success of the new brand but I feel that Coca-Cola missed a countless opportunity during these years.
Let The Thunder be there for long unleashing the Toofani of the consumers