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Jeeru to J: The journey from word-of-mouth marketing to the beverage of the youth

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Sneha Medda
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Social Samosa talks to Anjana Ghosh about how Jeeru, an iconic brand in the jeera soda segment, enjoyed a loyal consumer base and became synonymous to the category based on WOM. Now that it changes its identity, how will it retain its loyal customer? Social Samosa explores.

Colas, mangos, oranges, and lemons were the star of the show when it came to aerated aka soda drinks in India for a really long time. With domestic and international brands competing against each other, very few, close to none were exploring the Indian digestive ingredient - Jeera. 

In 2007, Xotik Frujus’ Chairman, Rajeev Sehgal introduced India to its first-ever commercially produced ready-to-drink jeera soda, Jeeru. An instant hit from the very beginning, which had a humble start in Mumbai and Surat, Jeeru is now a pan-India brand. 

Now, to don an edgier, brighter and funkier look, Jeeru is shredding its old clothing. It also upgraded its image in 2020 but now, from brand logo and marketing to colour schemes, Jeeru is changing. 

In conversation with Anjana Ghosh, CEO - Xotik Frujus, Social Samosa looks back at Jeeru’s marketing journey through the years and unwraps the brand’s latest rebranding decision.  

How Jeeru popped without marketing

Since its inception in 2007, the brand largely focused on selling a product that well resonated with Indian taste standards. Now called J, Jeeru started off with exploring the markets and being available at local stores, kiranas and being at hand reach from the consumer. It first worked on its distribution strategy to strengthen its reach. 

With little to no marketing in place, the brand was quick to spread its presence through Word-of-mouth (WOM). 

Anjana says, “Word of mouth is the most powerful and credible medium of marketing because if your brand is spoken well about by its loyal consumer base, I think nothing can beat that.”

With its launch, Jeeru came as a familiar yet new taste for Indian consumers and quickly gained a loyal customer base. Today, the brand name is synonymous with ‘Jeera Soda’ and has become a category descriptor across the country. 

Jeeru eyes a bigger piece of the beverage pie

The soft drinks market in India amounts to $8.85 billion in 2023. Of that, 70% is dominated by Cola brands. The remaining 30%, as per Anjana, is shared by other categories and the ethnic beverage market, which calculates at about Rs 700-800 crore.  

Anjana points out that with changing consumer habits and market dynamics, every brand needs to revamp and evolve with the growing market. This also comes at a time when iconic home-grown cola brand Campa Cola is making a comeback and other brands like Nokia have considered revamping their identity.  

Also Read: Expert Speak: The Do’s & Don’ts of rebranding…

Previously, Jeeru (now J) dominated the Jeera Soda category in India. Anjana mentions that according to their market research, Jeeru was mostly associated with digestion and thus consumed only with food and not as a stand-alone drink. 

The Jeera Soda category has close to 192 brands in India. ‘J’ being one of them, needed to stand out and create a stand-alone name for itself. 

According to Anjana, the brand wasn’t aiming at just revamping the packaging, the brand aimed at re-evaluating and sculpting the company’s values and their positioning as well.  

In order to break the clutter down and explore a wider audience base, the brand stripped of this category (Jeera Soda) and has now stepped into a new segment - the Masala Soda category. By owning this tag, the brand aims at competing with big names and connecting with the audience on a larger scale. 

Commenting on this, Anjana said, “While Jeeru has long been enjoyed by families at home during meal times, we are now promoting Jeeru as a drink for all occasions.”

Apart from standing out to the mass, the main motive of this revamp was to connect better with the youth of India, hence the energetic packaging. 

To bridge the gap between new and old identity, J will also add ‘by Jeeru’ to its name. Anjana told Social Samosa that this was done to retain some elements of the past name to tap into the nostalgia factor so that consumers can connect better with the revamped brand. 

The Colours of Today

Colours, shapes and visuals play an intense role in connecting with the TG of any brand. With Jeeru’s rebranding, Xotik aims at approaching the audience with a stylized and funkier look. 

Unlike Jeeru, ‘J’ - a trendier version of its predecessor, adorns six colours on its packaging and the minimalist single letter ‘J’ stands out amongst the maximalist colours in the background. 

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Speaking about the new design and its conceptualization, Anjana said, “The new design and vibrant 6 colours are aimed at creating higher brand recall with a sharper identity amongst New India.” 

She further stated that the objective behind this rebranding was to stand out of the clutter and shine amongst the hundreds of other brands whilst connecting with the younger generation who prefers desi over the West.

Getting ‘J’ to the masses

When J was still Jeeru, it mostly relied on traditional mediums of marketing and as a consumer favourite brand, users and retailers did most of the talking. With J having a more Gen-Z look and style to it, Xotik has formulated a year-long plan of curating various campaigns, trials and activities. 

Along with that, digital and social media activations, OOH campaigns, print & other on-ground activations will play a key role in spreading the word. In a statement released to the press, Xotik mentioned that the company is expected to spend approx. 20 crore on various marketing activities for their newest re-launch. 

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