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The 'Clear' Success Of India's Bottled Water Market India's bottled water market size was valued at $22.72 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $36.21 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 6 per cent from 2023 to 2030, said a report by GreyViews Research released in January 2023

By Shrabona Ghosh

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What started as a painful decision, ended in an unsealed deal. Selling Bisleri International to Tata Group was a painful decision for Ramesh Chauhan, chairman, Bisleri International. His belief in Tata Group's values and integrity helped him in taking the tough call. However, negotiations between the two companies went futile and the deal was finally called-off. Jayanti Chauhan, daughter of Ramesh Chauhan, will now steer the bottled water company.

India's Bottled water market size was valued at $22.72 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $36.21 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 6 per cent from 2023 to 2030, said a report by GreyViews Research released in January 2023.

Despite the presence of a huge number of small and local manufacturers, this industry is controlled by multinational corporations such as Parle Bisleri, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Parle Agro, Nestle, Mount Everest, Kingfisher and Manikchand, among others. According to a Statista report published in September 2022, the share of Bisleri by Parle in the packaged drinking water market was 26 per cent in India. In contrast, the share of Aquafina owned by PersiCo was 11 per cent in the packaged drinking water market.

Distribution of packaged drinking water in India from 2019 to 2024, by brand. Source: Statista

These companies are the trend setters in the marketing of bottled drinking water. Bottled water market is a symbol of health-consciousness rising in India, especially post COVID-19. While a substantial portion of the Indian population struggles to get safe drinking water, in metro cities spending high costs for packaged drinking water is increasing. "Over the last five years, the bottled water market has grown by 40-45 percent. Higher disposable income, increasing taste for hygiene, improved price, easier availability of packaged drinking water and a lack of safe drinking water are driving demand for bottled water," quoted a report by Maximize Market Research.

Almost all of the major international and national brand water bottles have penetrated into the Indian market and can be found anywhere from malls to railway stations to bus stations to multiplexes to Kirana stores and even roadside Betel shops.

Brands such as Bisleri, Aquafina and Bailley have also adopted the direct-to-consumer model, by launching their own online platforms or tying up with delivery apps. Bisleri, for instance, has launched its own website, and is also taking orders for delivery through its customer care number. It has delivery agreements with Zomato, Dunzo, Big Basket and Amazon, and it has increased its physical presence in pharma and milk shops. Bailley, a subsidiary of Parle Agro, began supplying 20-liter jars via Internet channels during the lockdown period and is now aggressively expanding.

The most difficult obstacle for bottled water firms in India is duplication, particularly in the case of one litre bottles: making a phony bottled water is really simple. "Other significant issues come from the unorganized sector, which dominates the manufacture of bottled water in rural, semi-urban, and metropolitan regions. Because the manufacturer does not need large machinery, counterfeiters have been able to make bottled water in several places," added the MMR report.

After the failed Bisleri deal Tata has decided to invest big on its own mineral water brands such as Tata Copper+ and Himalayan.

Bisleri, has a strong presence with 122 operational plants and a strong distribution network: 4,500 distributors and 5,000 distribution trucks across India and neighboring countries. "We have always believed in our promise of providing safe, pure and healthy mineral water to consumers for the last 50 years and we strive to carry on this legacy in future," quoted the brand's website.

For making Bisleri a success, the first milestone or highlight was to create a terrific distribution network, which is primarily responsible for Bisleri's growth. "There were a couple of hindrances that we faced, like the weight of the product. Since the product is bulky and heavy and the price per kilo is reasonable for the 20 liter home pack, the cost of transportation becomes very high as compared to the selling price. Availability also decreased with distance," Chauhan told Entrepreneur India in a previous interview.

Later he brought in changes and made strategies that crafted the success story of Bisleri. With a career spanning across 52 years, Chauhan's leadership and vision made Bisleri a household name.

Shrabona Ghosh

Correspondent

A journalist with a cosmopolitan mindset. I lead a project called 'Corporate Innovations' wherein I cover corporates across verticals and try to tell stories on innovations. Apart from this, I write industry pieces on FMCGs, auto, aviation, 5G and defense. 
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