The rise of Kola Real -- from its humble, door-to-door sales beginnings, to becoming a high-profile drinks multinational -- has all the pop and fizz of a classic rags-to-riches story.
But having stretched the current company structure and strategy as far as it can go, what are Kola Real's chances of expanding to become one of the world's top soft-drink multinationals by 2020?
The first bottles of Kola Real were produced in a family residence in the city of Ayacucho, Peru, during the 1980s. The area was so ravaged by terrorist conflict that Coca-Cola and Pepsi had pulled out of doing business there.
This withdrawal created a gap in the local market just begging to be filled by a homegrown operation.
Enter the Añaños family. Eduardo Añaños, Mirtha Jeri and their six children took out a loan against their home and personal assets, and set up the business, first selling to the local neighborhood.
In 1988, they founded AJE, the bottling company and distributor of Kola Real, and opened their first production facilities.
After conquering the Lima market, they expanded throughout the Latin American and Asian markets, setting up operations in countries as far and wide as Venezuela (1999), Ecuador (2002), Mexico (2002), Costa Rica (2004), Nicaragua (2005), Guatemala (2005), Honduras (2005), El Salvador (2006), Thailand (2006), Colombia (2007), Panama (2009) and Vietnam (2009).
By 2010, the family business, already a powerful multinational company, was present in 14 countries worldwide, consistently ranking second or third in its sector, with $1.7 billion in sales.
But can the company continue to expand without losing the competitive advantage that made it what it is today?
Competing on Fair Price
One of the defining features of the company in its early days was its decision to focus on serving the lower socioeconomic classes at the base of the pyramid, which represent the majority in Latin America. Its competitors, by contrast, tended to target the far smaller segment of consumers with greater purchasing power.
The goal was to position its product as "the fair-price drink" -- sold at 20 percent to 30 percent below the average market price. It also sought to promote the "democratization" of consumption by drawing attention to the excessive prices of competitors' drinks.
A key factor underpinning Kola Real's success in so many countries was its sensitivity to the uniqueness of each market. Rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all policy, the flexible structure of the company allowed it to adapt itself to the peculiarities of each individual market.
Both Kola Real and its Big Cola brand in Asia adhere to a policy of "everyday low prices," with no special promotions, sales or coupons offered.
The company also abstained from advertising campaigns, unlike its competitors, which had much larger budgets. Instead, the company opted for word-of-mouth advertising, specifically targeting homemakers enticed by the low prices.
Thirst for More
Coca-Cola continues to rule the global market. However, the positive response of Big Cola consumers in highly populous Asian countries, such as India and Indonesia, could position AJE among the top tier of the rankings.
Moreover, by 2014, its recent expansion in Brazil should help Latin America supplant North America as the world's biggest market for soft-drink consumption. The potential for development now resides in the young middle classes emerging in both the Latin American and Asian continents. This target customer base has an insatiable thirst for brand-name bottled beverages.
Such growth, however, requires more variety and packaging options, in order to serve increasingly sophisticated tastes and preferences.
Kola Real's profile is starting to change. A sponsorship deal was struck with Barcelona football club to use the image of such star players as Messi, Iniesta and Puyol on the bottle labels.
Analysts are also questioning the feasibility of the company maintaining its small, flexible organizational structure at headquarters and each national operating division, while trying to penetrate the global market.
At this stage, its goal is to become one of the world's top 20 multinationals by 2020, solidifying its position as the second- or third-ranked player in each of the countries in which it operates.
How can it achieve these targets? What steps should be taken?
And can this goal be achieved without forsaking its small, family-based organizational structure?