Est is a Thai-produced brand of soft drink. Produced by Serm Suk, a Thai distribution and bottling company, it was launched in November 2012. It is now a mainstay in many refrigerators throughout the country’s convenience stores, and available in most local bars and restaurants. Indeed, there are some establishments that only offer Est for those wanting a caffeine and cola fix.
Est originally launched with its own cola, available in both glass and plastic bottles as well as cans. Check out the logo — with blue, white, and red, it uses the same colours as Pepsi. They are also, however, the same colours that feature in the Thai flag, giving the logo extra punch.
The brand later released other drinks, including a sugar-free cola and Est Play, a line of fruity carbonated drinks to challenge the likes of Fanta, Sprite, Tango, and 7Up.
The cola drink is pretty sweet, with a taste that is somewhere between cola and sarsaparilla. Drinking Est over ice helps to take away the syrupy edge. The other flavours are also super sweet, but Thailand is generally known for its love of sweet products.
Did the world really need another line of sugary, carbonated drinks?
The Thai brand of Est was born from problems with distribution of Pepsi products, which was historically a more popular brand in Thailand than Coca Cola, and a savvy business move by Serm Suk.
Serm Suk had been the country’s sole bottler and distributor of Pepsi for more than 50 years. Although full details of the dispute aren’t known, for some reason Pepsi and Serm Suk severed ties, leaving Pepsi needing a new doorway into Thailand. The day after the contract ended between the soft drink giant and the Thai company, Serm Suk launched Est. And it launched it with gusto, investing heavily in advertising and promotions.
With their lead in the distributing world, getting many customers to simply switch to the Est brand was simple. Instead of delivering Pepsi to stores and restaurants, crates of Est were loaded onto the trucks in their place.
Pepsi tried to maintain their position by building their own bottling factory in Thailand and using a global distribution company to deliver their soft drinks. However, they lacked the networks that Serm Suk had established over many years of trade.
Est had one other advantage over Pepsi: the packaging. While Pepsi was only available in cans or plastic bottles, the glass bottles of Est were preferred by many Thais.
While Pepsi and Est were battling things out, Coca Cola jumped on the chance to aggressively market its products, eventually becoming the more popular soft drink brand for the first time ever in Thailand.
All three brands are now widely available across the Land of Smiles, and it must be a great win for Est to now be considered, in Thailand, in the same league as two of the biggest soft drink giants in the world.