Avia Collinder, Business Writer
Wisynco Group has poured J$35 million into a mini-Coke product to rival Pepsi's Bubbla.
The beverage company, which is the exclusive bottler of Coca-Cola products in Jamaica, has placed a 355 ml bottled product on the market - to be sold through grocery shops, vending and wholesale channels - which it says is expected to grow volume sales of the brand by 10 per cent in the first year.
Wisynco's director of marketing and development, François Chalifour, says the new product is priced at J$50, a price point he suggests is key to the product gaining market acceptance.
"It provides a competitive price point, with higher margins and smaller requirements for storage than a 20 ounce," Chalifour said.
"Pepsi has done a similar introduction in 2011 but had trouble maintaining the promised price point," Chalifour said.
A promised response from Pepsi Jamaica's Carlo Redwood on this assertion was not forthcoming up to press time. However, Pepsi has previously said that Bubbla has been a successful product.
A regular Coke of 591 ml or 20 ozs retails for about J$80. It's unclear what strategy Wisynco has to ensure that the smaller product does not cannibalise its existing market share.
Chalifour estimates that the market for the mini-soda is worth about J$120 million monthly at the J$50 product price - or J$1.44 billion per annum.
The broader soda market is worth billions, but he gave no direct figure, saying only that it was not as much as J$30 billion.
Pepsi dominates the cola segment with about 80 per cent share and Wisynco with about 20 per cent.
Chalifour said he could not estimate how the new product might tip the balance.
"It is difficult to measure," he said, but adds that consumers tend to appreciate improved choice, and having products suited to different occasions.
Wisynco is investing J$10 million in capital equipment and parts and J$25 million in marketing spend on the product, which the Wisynco manager says is targeted primarily at teens and commuters.
He declined to disclose the volumes to be produced.
"We have priced the 355 ml at a price where the trade will be allowed to make their usual margins and still allow a vendor on the street to sell for J$50, or less," said Chalifour.
"There are no guarantees that existing consumers of Coca-Cola will not choose to buy the 355 ml instead of the 591 ml. However, the increase in selection means that new consumers will try, and that existing consumers will have more selection."