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By Amit Bapna | APAC editor-at-large

March 26, 2023 | 4 min read

The Drum speaks with Anuj Goyal, associate director of Slice and Tropicana at PepsiCo India to get behind the game plan for the mango drink this summer.

As summer kicks into gear, so do the drink wars. Soft drink, juice and water brands unleash their seasonal marketing activity in a bid to push their product to the top of the drink menu.

In India, it is the battle of the mango drinks that dominates the market as the top three brands - Coca-Cola’s Maaza, PepsiCo’s Slice and the home-grown mango brand – Frooti, prepare to do battle.

The mango wars are aggressive, mostly due to the huge popularity of the category. According to reports, mango-based drinks account for three-quarters share of India's packaged fruit drinks segment. In a sign of the category's popularity and success Coca-Cola expects its' Maaza drink to become a billion-dollar brand by 2024.

Against this competitive backdrop, PepsiCo is looking to attract attention - and sales - for its own brand Slice.

After 16 years as the face of the mango brand Slice, PepsiCo has announced its brand ambassador Katrina Kaif, will no longer front the brand (she moves to PepsiCo water brand, Aquafina). Instead, popular Bollywood actress and serial brand endorser, Kiara Advani has stepped in as the new face of Slice.

The move is a significant change for the brand and aims to help boost Slice's appeal among audiences.

Anuj Goyal, associate director of Slice and Tropicana at PepsiCo India says, "Kiara Advani’s widespread reach across metros and regional markets will help connect with the masses and drive penetration in this segment.”

The move is risky. Kaif's familiarity as the face of the brand for such a long period of time instilled consistency and a well-established familiarity with Slice.

Shares Goyal, "The Slice ad films were always very beautiful to look at and that will not change along with many other things." For example, the brand campaigns always feature a shot of a drop of mango drink on the lip of the actress, and this has become one of the most recognized properties built over the years for Slice. Goyal says this iconic imagery will remain, despite the change in a brand ambassador.

Another consistency that is less obvious to consumers is the brand's campaign director, Karina Taira, the well-known Paris-based, Japanese director who continues to lend her consistent style to the films. Taira symbolises noteworthy stability, at a time of change. The campaign was created by the brand’s newly appointed agency Leo Burnett India.

Unraveling India’s unique mango mania

The mango continues to occupy a special place in Indian consumers’ hearts and palates. So, it is no surprise that the huge mango drinks category continues to experience good growth.

Shares Goyal, “Within the juice category, mango drinks enjoy the biggest share and in the last two years, there has been a huge uptake in demand in the mango drink category.”

As a growing market, with plenty of room for more growth in this category, PepsiCo plans to continue to invest in Slice, in a bid to secure the category's top spot.

In recent years, the brand has begun focusing on taste which, Goyal says, is one of the biggest retention factors in this category. Along with the appointment of Advani as the new face of Slice, the summer campaign aims to instil a sense of indulgence.

"Indulgence is being brought back at the centre of the brand, aided by the large reach of the newly appointed brand ambassador," says Goyal.

“[The aim is] to establish Slice as the most superior mango drink experience in the category and continue to build on the brand’s legacy.”

Slice is currently one of the top four fastest-growing brands in the PepsiCo portfolio, according to Goyal. With the activity aiming to drive penetration and adoption in this category, the summer mango wars will continue.

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