Coca-Cola India has found an eco-friendly way to boost its beverage sales in remote places in rural India that do not have sufficient electric power. The Indian business arm of the Atlanta-based company has developed eKOCool, a chest cooler powered by solar energy.
The cooler is designed to keep two crates of bottles, each containing 48 numbers of 300 ml glass bottles in chilled condition. The solar cooler can also be used to charge cell phones or supply power to homes. The new introduction provides the company a competitive advantage over its rivals in exploiting the Indian rural markets.
The company, under a pilot project, has introduced the eKOCool in 20 rural regions in Agra (UP) this summer. It found that the sales from the outlets have almost increased by five times. The beverages kept inside the cooler during the previous night or early morning get chilled and are ready to be served in the morning. The solar cooling equipment also cuts down the costs incurred in the use of electric power or purchase of ice to keep the bottles in chilled condition.
The project was conceived by the company in May 2009 when its CEO, Atul Singh, found that the rural outlets in UP and other places use conventional ice boxes with little quantity of ice to stock their products. On his initiative, the team availed the services of Western Refrigeration, a Mumbai-based company, to develop the prototype. The company has successfully completed the trials between March and July 2010 and is planning to provide 100 such coolers to rural segments during the coming months. It hopes that the improved sales from the outlets will offset the additional costs incurred on solar panel installation.