06 Feb 2020 17:43 IST

Parle gets a chance to reap further success with Rol-a-Cola 2.0

From Parle's Twitter account

Campaigns for winter months can be like: when the weather doesn’t let you have cola, have Rol-a-Cola

Parle is a well-known Indian company with brand resonance in both rural and urban markets. Food is a high-involvement category and is peculiar in many ways. For a brand to become the Fevicol of biscuits, it takes a significantly long time. Parle has become synonymous to the snacks served with tea owing to the legendary biscuits brand — Parle-G, a name resonating equally with old and young, parents and children, and every tea-lover.

One of the most iconic facts about Parle-G is that neither did it change its branding nor its taste. With this mantra, Parle has become a household name. As a very responsible brand, it did not miss the voice of its customers and was prompt in responding to the customers’ requests by bringing back Rol-a-Cola. This response to the request on social media not only made headlines and opened up another revenue source to the organisation, but also offers the company a chance to do some of the things it missed out on doing in the first phase.

The brand story

The company created a brand story to engage customers by inducing a feeling of nostalgia. The old favourite Rol-a-Cola has come back to India after a long vacation during which it visited many countries!

As Parle has proved itself to be a pocket-friendly brand, it should continue to follow the same strategy going forward in the short term for more penetration in the rural markets. With its iconic biscuit Parle-G, the company has done enough groundwork to make its presence in the rural markets felt. Since Rol-a-Cola carries ‘Parle’ as an endorser brand, this brand association can be leveraged well and Rol-a-Cola too can aim to become a household name in the long term. On the flip side, this allows Rol-a-Cola to have a fresh start and occupy a central share in the minds of rural customers as a cola-flavoured confectionery at a very affordable price.



Rural data is easily available and can be used to design targeted strategies for rural markets according to their buying behaviour, crop growing pattern and income levels. The shopping behaviour of the rural customers should also be appropriately studied and understood to establish a strong foothold. Here are a few notable behaviour patterns observed in the rural markets:


A few strategies that can be adopted to increase rural sales:

- Leverage the bright, shiny packaging: The new package is brighter than the old one, and the price per unit should be mentioned clearly on the package to aid mental accounting; if possible, the price should be mentioned in vernacular language too.

- School events: Sports events such as grabbing all the Rol-a-Cola candies on the field, sprint races and hopscotch can be organised in schools. Educational and extra-curricular events such as drawing competition and poetry recitations can be conducted for high school students mainly and the theme could be around the summer season and favourite activities.

- Campaigns for winter months in North India: From November to February, simple advertisements on local cable, vernacular channels, digital channels can be run with a message like — “When the weather doesn’t let you have cola, have Rol-a-Cola”. This would give a push to sales especially in these seasons.

- Retail shops campaigns: Retail shops to be decorated with price comparison mentioned in big-bold letters.

- Engage mothers: Clearly stating the benefits of consuming candy over soft drinks and the amount of money that can be saved by consuming the candy.

- Engage children: Give printed pictures to be filled with colour and the dots to be joined so that the younger members of the family can be engaged and they would want to collect the pictures.

- Making refreshing drinks: Exhibit how to make fuzzy jal-jeera in summers using the candy; other recipes can also be tried.

- Leverage local influencers: Local influencers such as village panchayats, teachers and sports coaches can be engaged to advocate for the brand.

- Finally, the strategies should be developed such that ROI calculation is facilitated.

Parle should continue with the low-pricing strategy but it should, however, be clear in communicating the brand’s story in the urban market to elicit nostalgia and use local folklore and strategies mentioned above to establish itself in the rural market.

Urban markets are fond of the do-it-yourself (DIY) concept. DIY wrappers, codes, out-of-home (OOH) advertising can be used to display the availability of Rol-a-Cola. The candy should be available mainly in retail outlets. Sweetmeat shops should be encouraged to offer candy instead of coins. A social message can be given out to people encouraging them to keep Parle-G and Rol-a-Cola in their vehicles and offer them to kids on traffic signals, at dhabas and slums. This would instantly push sales. Other ideas could be tie-ups with NGOs to celebrate birthdays at orphanages and asking brand loyalists to donate to buy gifts for the children adding the cola candy to the gift hampers.

Long-term growth will come when Rol-a-Cola becomes a way of life, and when we start using technology in advertising, giving a modern touch to the brand and a new feel to the emotion associated.


(The Second Runner-Up is a PGP student at IIM Shillong.)