‘Jeera soda’ Jeeru’s quest for ‘aspiration’ in a 'cola' market
While Jeeru strives to organize the largely unorganized Rs 700 crore ‘jeera soda’ market, it is trying to build an ‘aspirational’ quotient to appeal to the youth. When consumers think of a carbonated soft drink (CSD) today, brands that automatically pop up are the ones from the Pepsi-Cola lineage. An Indian CSD company Xotik Frujus is busy trying to wedge its own ‘cold drink’ brand into the consumer memory now. And, it isn’t just another cola or orange fizz. The brand is called Jeeru, an apple-based jeera masala soda. Rajeev Sehgal, founder, and chairman of Xotik Frujus tells afaqs! that Jeeru was born (in 2009) out of the need to create fodder for a fully functional modern beverage manufacturing factory in Andheri MIDC. Sehgal’s factory used to manufacture Orangina, a globally known orange soda for Schweppes. Orangina failed to gain traction in the Indian market for various factors (like price, color, texture, etc.). It was eventually sold off to Japanese brewer Suntory in 2009. “We had a factory of international standards but needed a product. And, we didn’t want to make the colas-mango drinks or drinking water, since the space was already cluttered,” says Sehgal. The quest for a new beverage got Sehgal to consider jeera soda, a niche category where the volume of consumption and sales were high but lacked established leadership. “We studied the jeera masala soda market and found that the segment was very firm. But it was moving as an unorganized cottage industry. At that point, there were thousands of manufacturers in a market of over Rs 200 crore, but none of them were touching a turnover of even Rs 1 crore.” While the product fits well with the spicy Indian palate, the presentation, quality assurance, and an organized national brand were absent. Sehgal mentions that the small manufacturers prepared their product on open gas ovens and sold it in recycled Bacardi Breezer bottles. That’s where Jeeru found its opportunity, in organizing. Overall, the market size of the organized and unorganized jeera masala category is around Rs 700 crore. Among organized brands, Jeeru competes with Bisleri’s Spyci (relaunched in 2020), Coke’s RimZim (2018), Parle Agro’s Dishoom, and regional players such as Bindu Jeera and Kashmira. Jeeru commands about a 10 percent share of the largely unorganized market. The brand has been growing at 40-50 percent YoY. Sehgal says that apart from the 17 Indian states Jeeru is available in, it is also gaining traction abroad, especially in countries like the US, the UK, Canada, and South Africa, which have a sizeable Indian population. The company’s portfolio today also includes other flavors like lemon, litchi, etc.