Thums up is an Indian soft drink brand that was introduced in the country in the year 1977 by Ramesh Chauhan. Today, more than forty years after it was launched, Thums Up continues to reign supreme in the Indian cola market, beating international competitors such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi to remain the most favored drink among Indian consumers.
The Origins of Thums Up
After Coca-Cola withdrew from the Indian market due to strict regulations, the Chauhan brothers of Parle fame decided to step in, and launched a new soda based product called Thums Up. Soon, it became one of the most popular products in Parle’s repertoire and almost monopolized the cola market in India.
The formula for the product was developed from scratch by Ramesh Chauhan, who experimented with numerous ingredients such as cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg before settling on the perfect mixture that has been winning the hearts of Indians for generations.
A Unique Drink for India
However, the Chauhan brothers faced a problem that was uniquely Indian – warm weather and power outages. At the time when Thums Up was being developed, many parts of the country experienced regular power cuts and load-shedding.
Most varieties of cola relied on refrigerators to retain their fizz. Coca-Cola and Pepsi were only fizzy so long as they were ice-cold. As soon as the drinks became warm, they lost their fizz.
To overcome this problem, the Chauhan brothers invested in much research and experimentation. Finally, they managed to create a cola which was both spicier and fizzier than most of its foreign counterparts.
As such, Thums Up was a perfect fit for the Indian palate, and ideal for India’s unique ground realities. This drink retained its fizz even when it was not ice-cold and did not need constant refrigeration to maintain its flavor.
A National Success Story
According to reports, Thums Up is a brand which is currently valued at over ₹45 billion. Over the years, the brand has been endorsed by some of the biggest names in Bollywood and Indian cricket. And yet, the rise of Thums Up was by no means inevitable or even very predictable.
The company has undergone enough dramatic twists and turns to make it a great candidate for one of Bollywood’s well-known ‘masala movies’.
Thums Up enjoyed meteoric rise during the late 70s and 80s, in a market that had very little competition. In the 90s, however, the Indian economy was liberalized and things took a rapid turn for the unpredictable.
A Struggle for Survival
In 1993, Thums Up found itself in the middle of a fierce bidding war between the international giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Eventually, Coke won and bought the rights to the brand at a cost of about $60 million.
Still, all was not well for Thums Up, as it was widely rumored that the brand’s foreign owners wanted to kill it, in order to promote their own flagship products.
Yet, their efforts were in vain, as Thums Up’s loyal fanbase was spread all across India, and the customers kept demanding more of the product. When it was sold to Coca-Cola, Thums Up had a market share of over 85 percent, and the passage of years hasn’t been able to diminish people’s love for the brand.
The Survivor’s Brand
Through highs and lows, abundance and adversity, Thums Up, much like India, has withstood the test of time. Every attempt to take it out of the picture has only resulted in the brand coming back stronger and fiercer for the next round.
True to its now-famous slogan, Thums Up did, indeed, make India ‘taste the thunder’, for forty years and counting!
Banner Image Credit: Saffronworld & CocaCola India
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