In the 80s, anyone switching on to the national television channel Doordarshan for their daily dose of programmes — be it mythological, children’s programme or even Chitrahaar — were greeted with a jingle that ended with ‘I love you Rasna’.
The Rasna baby girl epitomised pretty and cute and helped Rasna become the most consumed powder flavoured drink among children back then. Rasna entered the market at a time when one had the carbonated soft drink in the form of Limca, Gold Spot and Thums Up and there was a space for a drink specifically for children.
However in more than two decades of its existence in the market, Rasna has had its fair share of ups and downs. At one point of time, the brand was the most visible drink advertised on television. The brand slowly has lost out to a plethora of drink brands — from cola majors to fruit juices. But Piruz Khambatta, chairman & MD of Rasna maintains that the brand has managed to retain a market share of 85 % (if one takes only powdered drink brands into account). However market observers believe the brand faces tremendous pressure in the market considering that most drink brands are focusing on fresh fruits and wellness plank.
However the brand through its journey so far has tried to remain contemporary. If the 80s saw the ‘cute kid’ platform, the 90s saw the brand initiating promotional campaigns or what it calls ‘Prankies’. But with liberalisation and winds of change sweeping the society, the cute factor was replaced by the smart factor in the commercials. And the composition of the product also changed from ‘powder and liquid’ to ‘powder’. "The brand has been through it’s various life-stages, starting from education to emotional connect to promotional campaigns and to now bringing back the childish element that the brand has held dear for long," says Khambatta.
"Rasna had to evolve not just in a ‘life-cycle’ sense, but also to keep up with its competition," says Madhukar Kamath, group CEO & MD, Mudra Group, the agency that handled Rasna till 2005. From Mudra, the account moved to Dentsu and then to Rediffusion YR in 2009. The brand started its communication highlighting ease of use, which was followed by economy of use, both in 1984. "The ease of making Rasna with children making the drink themselves complemented the positioning of the brand", says Kamath. Next came the idea of appealing to mothers through children. "And when colas came in, there were flavour stories", he adds.
This was when the brand decided to re-invent itself. "Children had changed. Far from being playful, they were now racing towards adulthood in a competitive world", says Neville Medhora, VP, Rediffusion YR — the agency that handles the brand now. "We now had to differentiate ourselves from other children’s brands in the space", says Khambatta. In mid-2010, Rasna launched its Fruit Plus series and went the ‘natural’ way by incorporating fruit extracts in its product. "Most other brands, like Tang, are synthetic. We are the only ones with natural ingredients", he adds.
"The brand idea is ‘Reclaiming Childhood’ and our campaign, taking after the idea is called ‘Taste the Madness’", says Medhora. "Children aren’t growing up the way we did, and we have to clamour for attention in a growing market. It was on this insight that the Fruit Plus campaign was launched."
With global brands such as Tang ("Which has been launched for the fourth time in India", according to Khambatta), and Indian brands such as Kissan, Glucovita, Mapro etc., the big question now is whether Rasna will survive this time around. Says Kamath, "I have seen Rasna grow from strength to strength from the time it started, and they have been consistent in reinventing themselves. It is a very strong brand."