Chennai, Oct 26 (): Bovonto soft drink maker Kali Aerated Water Works, based in Tamil Nadu for 97 years will now expand to neighbouring southern states. This is happening at a time when cola giants Coco Cola and Pepsi are targeting rural markets.
Bovonto’s grape-flavoured drink is the Kali major flagship product. It has aerated flavoured soda too. The company is run by the family and around 25 of them decide on the pricing, sales and products. It has nine plants in the State and does not have TV adverts or brand ambassadors.
None of the brothers who manage the company have offices as they are living out of suitcases and doing their own direct marketing. Despite the presence of major international giants, Kali does not offer discounts. The fourth generation is too involved in the company business. It does not have funding from outside.
Palaniappan, son of Kaliappan who sold spices, tea and coffee put up soft drink- soda unit behind his house in Virudhunagar. He named the unit after his father and for three decades it ran from this place.
Six decades ago, brand Bovonto with grape flavour was put on the market. As demand grew, it put up nine units in different parts of the State and Tiruchy unit is an all-women’s unit.
Bovonto was a must at weddings and especially at the lavish ones conducted by cheaters. Two decades back, Coke and Pepsi came and local brands started exiting the market. Kali being managed by the family could not expand to match the demand. When PET bottles were introduced, Kali got a relief as Bovonto did not have much gas in it and PET bottles cannot hold gas for long.
With refrigerators coming to rural areas, Kali products stayed in circulation. By modest valuation, Kali is worth Rs 100 crore and is no player in the Rs 14,000 cr soft drink market. Kali’s hope is that colas are not much favoured and brands like Sprite are beating brands like Thums Up.
Bovonto’s longevity is purely on taste that is liked by the drinkers and on word of mouth publicity. It has got a local acceptance as a product of the State- the reason why it is able to withstand competition, says marketing experts. Though Bovonto is surviving on the strength of a conservative market, the customers would be gradually weaned away due to the presence of cola majors and the standalone brand might find it to maintain the cost price.