“Labels in local languages are emotionally appealing to consumers” – Anjana Ghosh

We speak to the director of marketing at Bisleri to know more about the brand’s packaging plans including the recent launch of regional language labels in India.

As they often say, with great power comes great responsibility. One of the great responsibilities that comes with your brand name becoming synonymous with the product category is to keep the counterfeits out of the game. The leading mineral water brand of India, Bisleri, has armed itself with regional language packaging as a way

26 Sep 2017 | By Payal Khandelwal

Anjana Ghosh of Bisleri

What were the main motives behind your recent move of creating Bisleri packaging in different regional languages?
India being a multilingual country, people prefer communication in their local language too. We intend to leverage this and connect with them in their mother-tongue by launching labels in several local languages across the country and across our different SKUs. Labels in local languages are emotionally appealing to consumers as it helps them read and understand the language they are most comfortable with.

Also, consumers will be able to recognise the genuine Bisleri bottle and avoid buying counterfeit products or products which spell (the brand name) differently but look the same. A large number of consumers in our country are not comfortable with English, and therefore, Bisleri bottles will carry the brand name in both English and local language to ensure that the end consumer gets Bisleri when he asks for it and does not mistake any other brand for Bisleri.

How are you planning to roll this out?
It’s a huge task to roll this out for all the SKUs across India. The first phase of the rollout is in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, parts of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. We will be launching labels in various local languages including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Oriya, Urdu and Assamese across the country and all our SKUs in the next two to three months.

One of the implications for this move would be one big label printing order being broken down to multiple smaller orders. How would this affect your label procurement and supply chain management?
We have 120 bottling plants in India and all of them have their individual labels with their respective manufacturing addresses. So changing to regional language doesn’t impact the label procurement process.  Yes, there is a huge effort in making this one-time change but the brand is ready to do so.

Are there any other practical challenges involved in this move?
There are really no challenges. The implementation just needs detailed planning and execution.

Counterfeiting has been a huge problem for your brand/category. Apart from this new move, what are some of the other steps you have taken to deal with this?
Since Bisleri as a brand has become synonymous with the category, so even when a person asks for mineral water, he or she says “Ek Bisleri dena?” However, even after saying ‘Bisleri’, if the shopkeeper hands over any XYZ brand, then the customer happily accepts it ignoring the fact that it is not really a Bisleri but a local brand or a lookalike.  With regional labels, we are sure that our customers across India will be able to spot the original brand from the fake ones.

Moreover, we actively educate our customers through social media and also through offline channels on how to spot the difference between an original Bisleri and the fakes/lookalikes. Our customer care across India also resolves all counterfeit products queries raised by consumers.

Bisleri bottle in Telugu language

This initiative is also an attempt at hyper-localisation. What are some of the other recent marketing initiatives by the brand in this direction? 
We’ve done our in-depth study on the latest trends in the mineral water industry via qualitative research to understand the category. While regional labels will help bridge the language barriers and help connect us with the common man in rural and urban areas, we are also planning to do an advertising campaign soon.

Last year we saw the launch of Bisleri 'Rockstar' bottle that aimed to carve a niche for itself through the specific shape and style of the bottle. What other packaging innovations like these can we expect to see from Bisleri in the near future?
We are very happy with the positive feedback we got for Rockstar. We definitely plan more innovations in packaging for upcoming festive season. Refreshing the look of our bottle is also in the pipeline.

Also, using an alternate packaging format like pouches to lower the price points was something that players in this segment have tried in the past. Was it successful? Are you looking at any other alternative packaging formats to extend your reach in the smaller towns and villages?
Water pouches are the most unhygienic packaging and hence are widely replaced by PET bottles because they offer better convenience. Also, PET bottles are not only 100% safe but also recyclable. The identity of a good brand depends on the quality and sustainability of the product and package respectively. While we are putting efforts in innovative packaging as mentioned, we are also experimenting with customised SKUs for different regions. For example, Bisleri 15 litre Homepack is only available in few parts of Gujarat on the basis of the demand in that region. Similarly, 300 ml Rockstar was especially launched to enhance the hospitality of serving water during occasions and gatherings.

What are the initiatives you are taking regarding the sustainability of the packaging?
All our bottles are made of PET (Poly-Ethylene Terephthalate), and the most unique feature of which is that it is totally recyclable.  

PET's exceptional capacity-to-weight ratio is key to its energy efficiency, putting more product in less packaging, utilising less weight and less fuel for transporting. Therefore, for our category which is high on weight but low on selling price, PET becomes the most cost efficient and energy efficient choice. The strength, versatility, and recyclability make it excellent from a sustainability profile point.

Apart from our mission to ensure access to safe drinking water for every Indian, we also make a conscious effort to keep our environment safe and healthy. As part of our social responsibility, we undertake several initiatives such as - PET Recycling, Rain Water Harvesting and Ozone treatments. Our initiatives contribute to create a positive impact on the environment and ensure that they are sustainable. Being the leader in the mineral water category in the country, we make the conscious effort towards correct disposal and recycling of PET bottles. In fact, we believe in going beyond the realms of our brand and accept plastic from all the brands in the market.

Our approach to PET recycling is three-pronged. First and foremost is the education since most people don’t know that PET is completely recyclable and can be used to make not just industrial items but also regular use items like T-shirts, caps, bags and fabrics. Secondly, we believe in engagement through our PET recycling drives in schools and corporate offices. We have enabled thousands of people to not only learn but also take the first step towards recycling which is segregation and collection. Thirdly, our association with various NGOs have ensured that we are able to send the collected bottles for recycling and the economic benefit from recycling is eventually used for the welfare of the underprivileged.

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