Coca-Cola India Pvt Ltd said on Friday it is looking to launch Thums Up – India's best selling carbonated beverage – globally, starting with neighbouring countries Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal, by the end of March.
"We are all set to take Thums Up to other parts of South Asia possibly by March 2018," Coca-Cola India and South West Asia president T Krishnakumar told newspersons in Kolkata.
Thums Up is also the company's first Indian brand that will become a $1-billion brand much before the targeted timeline of 2020, company officials said.
Thums Up is a 40 year-old brand which has been with the US beverage major for the past 26 years. In 1993, Coca-Cola bought Thums Up from Parle Bisleri Ltd.
Coca-Cola has 40 brands in India including Thums Up and Thums Up Charged.
Launched in 1977 by Parle Agro Pvt Ltd when The Coca-Cola Co was forced out of India by the then government, Thums Up quickly became India's biggest cola brand, trumping competitors such as Campa Cola and Double Seven.
In 1993, Coca-Cola returned to India and acquired the rights to Thums Up along with other Parle Agro brands such as Gold Spot and Mazaa, to take on global rival Pepsi.
Over the past quarter of a century, revenue from Thums Up has scaled up to around Rs6,000 crore and it is now poised to become a $1 billion brand, joining other Coca-Cola brands of that scale such as Fanta and Georgia, said Krishnakumar.
Fruit beverage Mazaa, also acquired from Parle Agro, is also expected to become a $1-billion brand by 2023, according to Krishnakumar.
Bangladesh will be the first overseas market where Thums Up will be launched, according to a spokesperson for Coca-Cola India. Last year, a study was conducted in these target markets and it was found that consumers in these countries had a similar taste for strong foods and beverages, he said, adding that if Thums Up - with the tagline 'Taste the thunder'' - worked in India, it would work in these countries as well.
The product will be manufactured and marketed locally, said Krishnakumar.
''It is a pretty serious move for us,'' he said. Coca-Cola India will ''market and create equity'' for Thums Up in the new overseas markets, he added.
India is currently the sixth biggest market for The Coca-Cola Co, said John Murphy, president for the Asia-Pacific region. India is set to overtake Japan within the next two years and become the fifth largest, he added. In India, the US cola giant is pushing for growth in sales of its fruit beverages such as Minute Maid.
The company will launch frozen desserts under the Minute Maid brand in India this summer, Murphy said.
Although Coca-Cola India has in recent times faced some headwinds thanks to sweetened carbonated drinks getting a bad health rap, ''broader trends remain very optimistic'', Murphy added.