In an attempt to make a ready-to-drink, value-added dairy beverage available to Indian consumers, The Coca-Cola Company has launched VIO - its first ready-to-drink flavoured milk product. Launched originally in the country’s favourite flavours - kesar and badam, VIO is now also available in the ‘modern’ flavours of chocolate and vanilla. The chocolate flavour has further been enhanced with 25 percent more protein power to help consumers meet some of their body’s vital protein requirements.

On the recent launch of VIO Chocolate Burst and Vanilla Wave in Andhra Pradesh, Anoop Manohar, General Manager- Dairy & Coffee, tells Richa Sharma why added protein needs to be a key component of our diet.

Why was VIO launched in Andhra Pradesh specifically?

AP is one of our strongest markets. It is also within HCCB- the third largest market for value-added dairy. Also, given the strong execution team there, AP was the obvious choice. We could also, obviously, geographically isolate any of the four southern states for communication by choosing to go with AP.

What are we launching the new flavours - why specifically chocolate?

While kesar and badam were the first to be launched- being the two most popular flavours in the country, the ones that are growing the fastest are these ‘modern’ flavours as we call them- chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. That’s one reason. Secondly, the whole positioning of the product is around ‘protein power.’ The angle we were trying to take with chocolate and enhanced protein is that the product will help your body recover so that you can perform at your best. And chocolate is one of those things which are known to help fasten recovery. So people who go to the gym have a bar of chocolate because it aids recovery. Vanilla is the second flavour because we feel that it’s a popular choice. AP is a market which is dominated by badam at the moment. So we felt that by putting out these new flavours we can offer a little bit more choice to the consumer.

What is special about VIO and how is it different from other diary-based beverages in the market?

What is special about VIO and specifically about the chocolate flavour is that it has 25 per cent more protein than a glass of milk, and this is what we are anchoring our communication on. India is a protein-deficient country - because of our diets primarily. We think that by increasing awareness about protein, offering consumers a beverage they are already comfortable with, and giving differentiated variants, we will be able to address the requirements of energy and body rejuvenation- especially given our hectic and fast-paced lives.

Anything new we can expect from VIO apart from protein power and flavours?

Going forward, we are planning to have more nutritional combinations, but this is something that will happen over a period of time. We want to make the experience of consuming milk more ‘fun’ because it has great relevance in a consumer’s life.

Factually, how does VIO help meet the consumer’s protein needs in a day?

Typically your body needs 90per cent of your body weight in grams, in protein every day.  So if you are an average Indian person at 60 kilograms, you need 54 grams of protein daily. One 200 ml pack of VIO Chocolate Burst will only give you 7.2 grams. So VIO by itself is not the solution – it’s just part of the solution. People need to be are more aware on the amount of protein that is needed - they generally tend to have two glasses of milk in a day and feel that their protein needs have been met. That’s not it - especially if you are vegetarian. I want to reiterate that VIO is not solving the overall problem. If someone needs 54 grams of protein - it’s not possible to put that much into one glass of milk. But it certainly is a step in the right direction.

Is there any specific target group that the product is addressed towards?

The brand communication is directed at 15-25 year olds. However, the protein benefits are actually applicable across age groups. If you are a growing child the protein requirements are actually higher - they are 1.2 times that of an adult’s. So it helps a child, it helps people who are into fitness and older people as well. Just given the very nature of our hectic lives, protein is something that helps your body recover. So while the communication is targeted at a younger audience, the consumption benefits are applicable to anybody.

When do we go pan-India?

Honestly I don’t know! The idea is to prove success in the market and try various things. Dairy is a new category for us – it’s not a category that The Coca-Cola Company knows very well. So we want to make sure we’ve got everything right in terms of our mix before we go pan-India, whatever time it takes.  Once we are confident that once we have our mix right, we will scale up pretty quickly.

Any other details of the plan ahead- new flavours and nutrients?

Well, I wouldn’t want to disclose everything we are working on, but it will be in the realm of the chocolate product - delivering more than what the nominal glass of milk delivers, and doing it in different combinations and with different kinds of recipes that are not something the consumer can replicate or even think of replicating at home.

Any plans to have protein power in the other flavours as well?

Yes! The whole plank is around protein power - every flavoured milk product of ours already has protein but it’s not enhanced like the chocolate flavour. So part of the product portfolio will be with the enhanced protein credentials, but there  will still be a part of the portfolio that is just fun, flavoured milk, like the first two variants we launched.

Anything else you would want the consumers to know?

Watch your protein intake- it’s important!