Celebrate Your Worth

Thums Up > Coke & Pepsi

If you are an avid Thums Up fan and a brand loyalist like I am, you are bound to have faced one of the following situations:

  1. You walk into a shop and ask for a bottle of Thums Up and the shopkeeper tries to sell you a Coke or a Pepsi, instead… sometimes even a 7 Up/Dew or some kind of an ‘uncola’.
  2. You walk into a shop, see a bottle of Thums Up in the refrigerator and you ask for it but the shopkeeper denies it’s there or that such a brand even exists… and when you insist, they tell you that it is not cold at all.
  3. This is the worst one – you walk into a shop and it actually doesn’t sell Thums Up.
India’s most popular soft drink.

It’s infuriating but this keeps happening. It made me wonder, so I did some pseudo research on Wikipedia about Thums Up. Since you can find all the information on Wikipedia about this, I’ll just write a short intro about it and then share my own thoughts about the whole ordeal (yes, ordeal – because it’s that frustrating).

The market, pre-liberalization, was not conducive for multi-national brands such as Coke to conduct business. So they wound up and left. That created a lacuna, eventually giving birth to various homebrewed beverages such as Campa Cola, Thums Up and the like. Thums Up was an innovation by Parle and soon rose to the top of the soft drink game. Post-liberalization, Pepsi came in and Thums Up faced fierce competition, not by virtue of the quality of Pepsi’s product, but their ad spends.

Rebranded as the Maha Cola after Pepsi entered the market.

Of course, Coke was soon to reenter and mess things up more. Parle eventually gave up on the cola wars and sold out to Coke. Coke wanted to discontinue the product (like they did with Gold Spot and some other beverages), but the demand for Thums Up was so high that they realized that stopping its production would be suicide. Besides, people seemed to gravitate towards Pepsi when they couldn’t get Thums Up – and that was bad for business. So they kept Thums Up alive – but it meant product cannibalization for Coke.

Well, that brings us to my thoughts on the issue. I believe that Thums Up is less easily available because Coke carefully controls the production and distribution of the beverage. That apart, in order to ensure that shopkeepers do not oversell Thums Up, they offer a greater profit margin on Coke. This is a little dicey to comment on because shopkeepers refuse to give out information on this – but it may be that shop A makes a rupee more on Coke than on Thums up and shop B makes the same on Thums Up as it does on Coke and Shop C gets some kind of an incentive to sell more Coke than Thums Up. Unless we’re insiders, we will never know. Looking up wholesale prices for beverages doesn’t help much either. They vary from dealer to dealer. But I really wish that Thums Up would be more readily available to the ones who love the taste of its desi toofani thunder.

Oh, by the way here’s Campa Cola making a comeback.

90s kids, gear up for a blast from the past!
90s kids, gear up for a blast from the past!

Pujo banner advert near Shobhabajar Raj Bari, Kolkata.

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