Thums Up is a brand of cola in India. The logo is a red thumbs up. It was introduced in 1977 to offset the withdrawal of The Coca-Cola Company from India. The brand was later bought by Coca-Cola who re-launched it in order to compete against Pepsi.
As of February 2012, Thums Up was the leader in the cola segment in India, commanding approximately 42% market share and an overall 15% market share in the Indian aerated waters market.
Thums Up was created in 1977, after the American company Coca-Cola withdrew from India, due to regulations requiring it to disclose its formula and sell 60% of its equity to an Indian company under a government plan for foreign-owned companies to share stakes with domestic partners. The Chauhan brothers owned part of the Parle company and already had two other brands of soda, Limca and Gold Spot, which were popular in India at the time. Thums Up quickly became the most popular and achieved a near monopolyamong cola products in India during the 1980s, such as Campa Cola, Double Seven, Dukes and United Breweries Group‘s McDowell’s Crush.
Ramesh had developed the formula from scratch, experimenting with ingredients such as cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. The company also wanted the drink to be fizzy, even when it was not ice-cold, so it could be sold by vendors. After much testing and experimentation, the Chauhan brothers and their research team created a cola that was fizzier and spicier than Coca-Cola. They originally planned to name the drink “Thumbs Up,” but removed the “b” to make the name unique.
In 1991, when the Indian government opened the market to multinationals, Pepsi was the first to come in. Thums Up and Pepsi subsequently engaged in heavy competition for endorsements. Pepsi spokespersons included major Indian movie stars like Juhi Chawla, while Thums Up increased its spending on cricket sponsorship. Thums Up also introduced a larger 300 ml (10 US fl oz) bottle, branded “MahaCola” (meaning ‘great [in size] cola’; the original size was 250 ml (8.5 US fl oz)). This nickname gained popularity in smaller towns where people would ask for “Maha Cola” instead of Thums Up.
In 1993, Coca-Cola re-entered the market and the three companies competed intensely. Later in the year, Coca-Cola bought the Parle Company for $60 million. When Parle was sold to Coca-Cola, Thums Up had a market share of 85 percent in India.
Despite its strong overall equity, the brand was losing its popularity among the core cola-drinking age group of 12- to 25-year-olds, partly due to a lack of advertising. At first, Coca-Cola cut advertising and production for Thums Up to drive customers to their flagship brand, but soon realised that Thums Up customers would turn to Pepsi instead of Coke, were Thums Up withdrawn from the market. Instead, Coke decided to use Thums Up as a rival brand to Pepsi. The Coca-Cola Company by this time had about 60.5% share of the Indian soft-drink market but found out that if it took out Thums Up, it would remain with only 28.7% of the market (according to a report by NGO Finance & Trade in India), hence Thums Up re-launched, targeting 30- to 40-year-olds.
The brand was re-positioned as a “manly” drink, drawing on its strong taste qualities. Thums Up started an advertising campaign directly attacking Pepsi’s television commercials, focusing on the strength of the drink hoping that the depiction of an “adult” drink would appeal to young consumers. “Grow up to Thums Up” was a successful campaign. The brand’s market share and equity increased.
Today, the beverage is the leading cola in India, with 42 percent of the cola market share and 15 percent of the market share for all carbonated drinks. It is especially popular among teenagers, young adults, and people in their 30s and 40s.
According to Coca-Cola’s Indian website, Thums Up contains: carbonated water, sugar, acidity regulator (E338), caffeine, natural colour (150d) and added flavours (“natural, nature identical and artificial flavouring substances”)
Logo and marketing
The original Thums Up logo was a red thumbs up hand gesture with a slanted, white, sans-serif typeface. This would later be modified by Coca-Cola with blue strokes and a more modern-looking typeface.
Product placement in films was used in the 1980s with Thums Up appearing in the background of many Hindi films.
In February 2012, popular South Indian actor Mahesh Babu became a spokesperson for Thums Up. In October 2012, Coca-Cola India signed Salman Khan once again as the brand ambassador of Thums Up. The company has also tied with Salman Khan’s movie Dabangg 2 and his charitable organisation as part of the deal.
Thums Up was a major sponsor of cricket matches and also had a notable presence at the Sharjah cricket matches. In the early 1980s, it came out with several postcards featuring Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan.
Besides cricket, Parle’s southern bottler was a major sponsor of Indian motorsport in the 1980s. In addition to sponsoring several Indian track drivers in Sholavaram races, they sponsored several regional car and bike rallies. They were also associated for several seasons with the Lakshmi Mills Super Speeds team.
Awards and recognitio
According to the Brand Trust Report 2012 published by Trust Research Advisory, a brand analytics company, Thums Up was positioned 140th among India’s most trusted brands. Subsequently, in Brand Trust Report 2013, Thums Up was ranked 170th among the most trusted brands in India while according to the Brand Trust Report 2014, Thums Up was elevated to the 66th position among India’s most trusted brands.
In popular culture
A peak in the Manmad Hills has become popularly known as the “Thums Up Mountain” or the “Thums Up Pahaar” (in Hindi), because it has a natural top like the “Thums Up” logo and is a popular sight from trains.