We'll be launching more products next year than we did in the last five years combined: Ankur Jain, Bira 91
Ankur Jain, Founder & CEO, Bira 91Bira
Jain also tells us about their recently launched first-ever 360-degree campaign ‘Make Play With Flavors’

We'll be launching more products next year than we did in the last five years combined: Ankur Jain, Bira 91

Jain also tells us about their recently launched first-ever 360-degree campaign ‘Make Play With Flavors’
  • Bira has been witnessing impressive growth in the last few years. It has grown at 150% CAGR from 2016-2021. It has also grown by 2X compared to pre-Covid levels while tripling its market share in the last two years.
  • The brand is now focusing on bringing newer products to its consumers. It will also be expanding its reach in an attempt to go deeper into the country.
  • We speak to Ankur Jain, Founder & CEO, Bira 91 who tells us about their secret sauce and their areas of focus going ahead.
Craft beer company Bira recently came up with its first-ever campaign. From a brand that was first brought into existence to serve just one small neighborhood in Delhi (the upmarket Hauz Khas Village), it has now expanded its portfolio to seven different flavors of beer, with one new beer every week at its taprooms. The brand has also forayed into merchandizing.

The last few years have seen Bira go on an impressive growth trajectory. It has grown at 150% CAGR from 2016-2021 and has grown by 2X compared to pre-Covid levels while tripling its market share in the last two years. And this is just the start of their story, shares Ankur Jain, Founder & CEO, Bira 91, who started the company after being disappointed by the lack of good beer in India.

“When we started out in 2015, our goal was to place our product in 30 bars out of the 50 in Hauz Khas Village (HKV). We launched with a wheat beer and lager, and only on tap, no bottles and no cans! Very quickly, we were able to bring our product to almost all bars in HKV. And interestingly, we immediately started gaining a lot of love and followers and consumers started switching from established brands like Kingfisher, Heineken and Carlsberg to Bira 91,” remembered Jain.

Once he saw the kind of reception the beer got, Jain said they revised their ambition and started making a roadmap of taking the product to other parts of the city and slowly to other states.

Fast forward 6 years, Bira is now one of the most visible homegrown beer brands with a loyal following. “Over the last 6-7 years, we've been very lucky to get immense love from our consumers, and a lot of support from our suppliers and investors. It's fair to say we've created a franchise with a semblance of scale. At this point, we're probably the largest consumer brand, not just the largest beer brand, that's emerged out of India in the last decade. This year, consumers will spend over Rs 2000 crore on Bira 91 products, which for a single brand, in an Indian context, is pretty large. And over the last 12-24 months, especially as the world's been infected by COVID and these unprecedented times, what's been really heartening to see is that we've actually doubled our volume, and tripled our market share, which means that consumers are making much more deliberate choices when they're picking up the beers they want to drink, and really want more value from the pint or can that they consume in the form of flavors, which has been our promised throughout,” explained Jain.

Since alcohol brands are not really allowed to traditionally market their products, most brands have to go for surrogate marketing. However, Bira did things a little differently. “There were three things we did differently. Firstly, we completely focused on draught beer. We realized that there were very few bars in India that served beer on tap and we realized we could become leaders in the space. Today, we're the number one draught beer brand in the country, and it gave us the added advantage of being visible at the bar instead of being relegated to a refrigerator. Secondly, we really focused on the point of sale, which meant premium displays and encouraging people to try products through our events, activations and promotions. And thirdly, we really focused on digital. But it wasn’t only about social media. We wanted to use digital to solve consumer problems. For example, back in 2015 or 2016, one of our first campaigns was, we almost built a neighborhood guide with monkeys to tell people where to find Bira 91. We also partnered with Zomato and created the first branded keyword search wherein one could type Bira 91 near me and it would throw up a list of bars and restaurants where Bira 91 was being served,” shared Jain.

The brand also came up with its first ever 360-degree campaign ‘Make Play With Flavors’. Explaining what it was all about, Jain said, “We have very cheekily called it Make Play with Flavors which is a pun on Make Way. Nobody wants to drink the same beers as their dads and that switchover is currently underway. We feel this generation wants a diversity of tastes and flavors in the products they consume. And therefore, the tagline make play with flavors.”

The brand had also very quickly realized the potential that a merchandizing arm could hold and had launched it around 4-5 years back. In the last two years, the business has grown by about 3X and the company is constantly expanding on its offerings, which would also include a premium apparel collection.

On where he thinks the next phase of growth for the brand will come from Jain said, “One of the things we are very focused on is innovation. We'll be launching more products next year than in the last five years combined. And people can expect a lot more flavors from us next year. Secondly, we are also expanding our taproom business. Currently, we have one taproom and we'll be expanding to potentially a couple of cities over the next 6-12 months. And the third area of growth for us will be essentially from going deeper into Bharath, taking our products to new states and even deeper into our existing states and making sure that our products are available in more stores.”