The story of Rola Cola's life after death
A tool of today helps a candy of yesterday find a new shot at life. Parle top boss recounts how cola-flavoured sweet discontinued in 2006 made a comeback in India this month
A determined Twitter user from Kerala and a smart social media team, powered by the charm of nostalgia, are behind a giant confectionary brand's return to innocence. When Siddharth Sai G tweeted in February this year about missing the Rola Cola, a cola flavoured sweet, the guys at creative agency Please See put the post up on Parle's top bosses' group chat, seeking a plan of action. Krishnarao S Buddha, category head, Parle Products, remembers that the initial demand was "1 lakh tweets to bring Rola Cola back". They finally decided on 10,000.
By March 13, Parle had received 10,000 retweets with #BringBackRolaCola. "By the time we had reached 5,000 retweets, we knew we were relaunching it, irrespective of the goal. We couldn't disappoint our consumers," he says.
Interestingly, Rola Cola was not discontinued out of India. It continued to be available in African countries as well as the Middle East. "Soon after the Twitter campaign, our backend work started, and we announced that we'd be bringing the candy back in 90 days. We started thinking of additional capacities for our domestic market, the packaging and pricing," he shares.
Until 2006, Rola Cola was priced at Rs 2. It will now be sold at Rs 5. While the packaging largely remains the same, the colours are fresher to appeal to post-millennials. Since Parle has a policy of sending its products from the Indore manufacturing facility to the farthest location first, the consignments were first sent to the south. Western India received it last, although certain Mumbai stores are still to stock it.
The new Rola Cola
Buddha says retro candies like Rola Cola, Kismi, Mango Bite and Melody have a large fan following. "In fact, our business associates often ask us where they can get Kismi or Mango Bite, believing that they are no longer available. Some of us just stopped having it, I guess. We grew up and forgot how to relive the past," Buddha laughs.
So why was Rola Cola discontinued at all? Buddha, who joined Parle in 2001, says that in the overall growth trajectory of Parle, while most products grow, they follow an annual ritual of brand rationalisation. "As part of it, we say goodbye to one product to make way for another. So while we were extremely emotional about the decision, we were forced to stop production of Rola Cola."
A dip or resurgence was never the reason for stopping production. "Kids of the eighties and nineties, who are now typically parents to five to seven year olds, love that we are bringing nostalgia back. These sweets are a great connect between their own childhood and their kids. Most of them remember the iconic jingles associated with the sweets. All we needed was a refreshed approach to appeal to the millennial."
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