Peruvian cola wars on wheels

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LIMA--Inca Kola, Peru's local soft drink that gives global giants a run for their money, has unveiled its newest sales technique--tricycle carts in the shape of Inca Kola bottles.

The "Tricibotellas," as they are known in Spanish, are pedaled through the streets of Lima, Peru's capital of more than 7 million people, by vendors hawking Inca Kola. Jorge Taboada, Inca Kola's operations manager, describes the tricycles as movable sales centers able to help maintain the brand's profile among consumers.

The Inca Kola tricycles, however, are not the first to ply Lima streets. The first three-wheel cola cans were launched by the Coca-Cola Co. last year.

Coca-Cola tricycles, made by Peruvian Humberto Velarde, began circulating in Lima in early 1998. Shaped like a Coke can, the tricycles won the 1998 award for best innovation by the British company Inchcape, which owns the Coca-Cola bottling operation in Peru.

According to the company, the tricycles increased street sales by nearly 20%. Marcial Mora, general manager of Coca-Cola in Peru, says the tricycles represent part of the company's strategy to interact more closely with the public.

Inca Kola and Coca-Cola have been disputing the top position in the Peruvian market for years, with Inca Kola coming out on top in Lima but with Coca-Cola having an overall lead on the national level.

Copyright January 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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