Packaging relevance on consumption patterns

The Cola giants have understood the importance of branching out into segments that provide healthier beverage alternatives to cola, for consumption. But what is interesting to note is the difference between immediate and future consumption and how it is linked in a way to packaging. Most Immediate consumption happens, in India at smaller retail stores and third party vending companies (as seen in Retail Mall food courts) as against future consumption which is driven primarily by larger supermarkets. Though packaging is termed important, it is critical to ensuring future consumption sales. Packaging may not be as critical, when it comes to immediate consumption where greater visibility within storage devices ( visi-coolers) holds importance.

This is due to the buying habits exhibited by consumers which are different when they got to a retail store as compared to when they go to a supermarket. In India, today, more of future consumption sales is going the 'healthier beverage option' route, ie., juice based drinks. The move to 'healthier options' has not yet hit smaller retail stores that drive immediate consumption, where the colas and their variants (non-still drinks) still do well. This is due to consumers preferring 'non-still drinks' over 'still ones' as 'thirst quenchers'. Sure it must be admitted that immediate consumption of non-still drinks has been affected to a certain extent with the mango juice brand 'Maaza' being the largest selling brand. Maaza was a part of Parle Agro's portfolio which was later taken over by Coca-Cola. With its more than 100 varieties, the mango remains India’s most popular fruit of choice. Much more widely drunk than apple and orange juice, it is however not possible to produce a 100-percent mango juice beverage due to its consistency.

It's interesting to note that in the US, in 2006, approximately 68% of the Coke's bottle/can sales volume to retail customers was sold for future consumption. The remaining sales volume of approximately 32% was sold for immediate consumption, primarily through dispensing machines owned either by the Company, retail outlets or third-party vending companies. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated's largest customer, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., accounted for approximately 16% of its total bottle/can sales volume to retail customers and its second largest customer, Food Lion, LLC, accounted for approximately 12% of its total bottle/can sales volume to retail customers in 2006. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. accounted for approximately 11% of the Company's total net sales.

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