How Areez Khambatta’s Rasna became middle class India’s favourite drink

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Areez Pirojshaw Khambata, who passed away on Saturday, was not only an industry stalwart but was also known for changing the way refreshment was served in India. The timing was opportune because not only had India gained independence a few decades back, but the middle class was also slowly emerging with its own aspirations.

Armed with a company entrusted by his father, Firoz Khambata, Aarez Khambata recognized the need of the growing middle class and gave them a new kind of soft drink in a glass. In a market flooded with the popular drinks of Gold Spot, Thums Up and Limca in the 1970s, Khambata introduced them to the soft drink Rasna. It started gaining popularity by the 80s.

The new drink resonated with consumers with its orange avatar and freshness. Not only that, it was economical too. A packet of Rasna costing Rs 5 can be converted into 32 glasses of soft drink, which costs 15 paise per glass.

Above all, the advertising campaign, complete with the Rasna Girl – analogous to the Nirma and Amul girls – saying “I love you, Rasna”, boosted the soft drink concentrate’s popularity. The campaign captured the imagination of consumers in the 1980s–90s.

A 2012 news article noted that the company has over the years roped in brand ambassadors such as Karisma Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Anupam Kher, Paresh Rawal, Kapil Dev and Genelia D’Souza. Ariz Khambatta’s son and current group chairman Piruz Khambatta believes that it is important to attract the present generation and hence it is important to keep changing celebrities as it will give a fresh look to the product. He believes that not much changes in a brand over a period, but a celebrity changes the perception of the brand.

The company is now the world’s largest soft drink concentrate producer. Rasna is sold in 60 countries and across 1.8 million retail outlets in the country. Rasna has nine manufacturing plants and a distribution network of 26 depots, 200 super stockists, 5,000 stockists, 900 salesforce across the country.

Rasna has also been honored with several awards over the years, including the Superior Test Award 2008 instituted by The International Test and Quality Institute, Belgium Cannes Lions London, Monde Selection Award, Master Brand The World Brand Congress Award and ITQI Superior Test & Quality Awards included.

But Ariz Khambatta’s focus was not just a flourishing business. He was also known for his contribution to the society. “Khambata has contributed immensely to Indian industry, business and most importantly social development through social service,” said the company’s statement on his demise.

Khambatta was the chairman of Ariz Khambatta Benevolent Trust and Rasna Foundation, which is involved in various projects in the areas of health, education, scholarship etc. He also served as the president of WAPIZ (World Alliance of Parsi Irani Zarathustis) and the Ahmedabad Parsi Panchayat. Also the Vice President of Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India.

Arez Khambatta was the commandant of the Ahmedabad Home Guards and Civil Defense for 20 years.

He was awarded the National Civilian Award by former President Shankar Dayal Sharma for his contribution in the field of commerce. Khambatta was also awarded the President’s Home Guard and Civil Defense Medals, and the Paschim Star, Samarseva and Sangram Medals.

The 85-year-old industrialist was suffering from prolonged illness, and passed away on November 19. Arez Khambatta is survived by his wife Persis, and children Piruz, Delna, and Ruzan, his daughter-in-law Binasha, and grandson Arzin. Arzad, Avan, Arez, Firouza and Arnavz.

Read also: Rasna founder Arez Pirojshaw Khambata passed away at the age of 85

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