As bars & beverage open up, in the post covid scenario, consumers & brands are beginning to connect again. The mood is reflecting a positive trend, though a lot seems to have changed as well. Spiritual Luxury Living hosted a study to understand the new trends “post” the Covid situation in India.
The F&B Environment in India is on an upswing, as cities and states continue to open up.Hotels and F&B Outlets have opened with 50% capacity. Hotel Bars have also opened, but not witnessing large number of guests – Less than 30%. Over 35% outlets in premium dining may not open again, as perestimate at this stage. Outlets are offering as much 33% discount on dining, with an average cheque INR 1500-2500 per head. Most stand-alone F&B Outlets are witnessing over 60% average footfalls, compared to 2019.Malls are witnessing 50%-60% footfalls, but not much conversion in sales. There is a higher base of customers in local markets & for weekly shopping. There is a good response to fast food & Indian snacks – up by over 60%. Pizza is the most ordered fast food, followed by Biryani and then Indian Samosa. There is also large growth in home Cocktail Mixes, Tonic Water & Mixers. Home catering is picking up well, with packaged & designed hampers. There is definitive growth in premium alcohol & spirits. Home Bars & entertainment at home – High Possibility of revival!
All Things Beverage
Whiskyis the preferred pour and the most enjoyed in the country. As elsewhere, even though Gin is gaining a lot of attention, but Whisky continues to be on top of the game.
Retail alcohol sales are at all time high with shops recording over 200% growth in the last few months. Stand-alone Bars are doingmodest business, less than 60%, but there is high opportunity in the next 6 months. The Duty Free is at an all-time low, but looking to ramp up in 12 months with international travel picking up again.Home Drinking – Starts on Tuesday & weekends are looking more “food oriented”. Over 20 flavours of mixers are on offer across premium outlets. Cigars are gaining ground with more smokers buying in India. Gin & Whisky top as Spirits of Choice. Rum & Tequila are on limited offer by Brands. Vodka picks up every so often based on the brand of choice. There is a movements towards Premiumization of Spirits. Whisky is on Top of the Value Chain. There are also new guidelines on Communication of Beverage Brands. Digital is gaining prominence, though physical event have started again fromAug 2021.New Bars are coming up in Goa & smaller towns and Neighbourhood bars may be the new trend in 2022. Most younger people are relocating out of large towns, which is impacting office operations, such large companies / brands are looking at moving out of CBDs. These are current trends & things may change in the next 12 – 18 months. It is imperative to adopt the new learning’s, refresh the product offering & launch again in India. There is an upswing in Indian Whisky as well !
Whisky production has evolved in the last few years, in India., Chairman Paul P John, Paul John Distillery, “Changes are being seen and felt across, all Indian whisky has been changing on all points over the last few years. As consumers become more aware, and with more international brands now available, Indian Whiskies discovered the need to hold their own against global products and have striven to do so with success. New technology and innovations have been introduced across the board, including innovative packaging, better testing in accordance with global norms and information available on the labels as per FSSAI implementation in the country.
Global Companies are also connecting well with consumers. “India is an important market for Beam Suntory where we are striving towards building on current momentum of our premium portfolio by leveraging our East-Meets-West competitive advantage. So far, we are thrilled by the appreciation that Oaksmith®️ received from consumers since its launch in December 2019 and its rising popularity among spirits aficionados in India. We see a growing opportunity for premium quality spirits across India and look forward to expanding the geographies of our portfolio in the market,” says Neeraj Kumar, Managing Director of Beam Suntory India.
Data reveals that there is a surge in sales of premium products which only goes to show that consumer exposure and preferences have evolved to enjoy better character and profile of whisky, rum or brandy. Also, the fact that availability and consumption of variety of brands from across the globe is an indication of the evolving consumer pattern. The Indian consumer has evolved a lot in the past few years and if fairly knowledgeable. They are seeking better quality products and willing to experiment and try newer blends.
There are new trends being witnessed in consumer behaviour as well. Product innovation and premiumisation are the key and bodes well for the future of Whisky in India. The Indian consumer demands high quality both in product and packaging, while still seeking value. Modern trade outlets that allow consumers to enjoy a personal shopping experience will continue to grow, in turn encouraging consumers to explore multiple brands in addition to their brand of choice, their preferences may change based on occasion as well.
Consumers are showing keenness to enjoy quality products. Seeing this change, companies are gearing up to move towards premium segment of supply. In terms of marketing, the virtual whisky releases and tastings are here to stay for a while. The pandemic has made that aspect of brand building and storytelling possible with the consumer.Pandemic has resulted in more home consumption, upgradation to premium brands and taboos relating to alcohol consumption are coming down. More and more consumers are now drinking to enjoy and celebrate rather than to get drunk.
There have been changing consumer preferences towards Whisky Styles, Regions, Countries, Palate as well. As they experiment with various styles of whiskies, the consumers are developing sophisticated palates which allow for more variety in styles and finishes. Going forward, special finish whiskies will grow in size as they offer the consumer something over and above the standard fare. Though according to Mr. ThiruvikramNikam, Joint Managing Director of Amrut Whiskies, “Indian are known to like smoky whiskies (in varying range of intensity) and we have also observed that people take great liking towards having whiskies from across the globe. The consumers are wide ranging. They are new and evolved, young and older. They offer a mixture of opinions and views that brands are out to seek.More and more people are now drinking to enjoy the moment, be it with family, friends or in celebration of an occasion.
The pandemic has virtually wiped out the on-premise channel. This has made the off/retail channel much more important than it previously was.In India, trade and channels vary from state to state based on state government policies. Now retailers are offering consumers a retail experience unlike before. Yes, very much so. The threat of the pandemic has made people wary on close quarter engagements and gathering. While social distancing is the norm, a lot of the consumer outreach program has taken stream virtually offering a unique solution and opportunities for brand building and marketing.Online and Home delivery are the new norms. Though still at a nascent stage in India but growing everyday.
Brand Marketing & Consumer Outreach
With the decimation of on-premise channels, it is no longer possible to allow consumers to experience new products or to pair food and drink for a new experience. In store marketing options are also highly limited. Thus marketing and consumer outreach has moved from the physical world to mass and virtual media where consumers share their experiences and build communities around brands. Since advertising is still not legally allowed for the industry in India, this means that consumer outreach is primarily based on word of mouth on social platforms today.
Digital marketing and social media are the new buzz words and their influence will keep growing in future
A Toast to the Future
Whisky accounts for nearly 60% of all spirit sales in the country. It is. While a lot of the categories in India are being shaken up and are creating a lot of buzz and activity, whisky is the dominant category in India and will remain to be for the foreseeable future.This is not likely to change in the immediate future. Though Gin as a category is growing at a very rapid pace, but on a very small base. Whisky will continue to flourish in India, however the next few years look tough for Made-In-India whiskies due to changing govt. policies. According to Sanjeev Banga, President, RadicoKhaitan, a leading Indian Company, “ As they say, best is yet to come. There is increasing premiumisation in the Whisky space and more producers are entering the Indian Single Malt category. The future looks very promising for Indian Whiskies not only in India but globally. India has so much to offer to the world in terms of its unique and innovative products.