Indians develop a taste for expensive alcohol – and that is bringing home global brands

  • From Beam Suntory to Bacardi and Vbev, all have recently launched premium liquor brands in India.
  • The recent economic slowdown in the country did affect the liquor market but it also led to a new trend of premiumisation.
  • Awareness around brands in India is growing, even though the consumption is limited to certain cities.
Indian millennials are travelling around the world, living that instagram-worthy life... and they are also increasingly aware of the finer things in life. Whether it’s a 12 year aged scotch or a fine wine, they don’t mind spending that extra bit on a good bottle.

This willingness to spend and the desire for premium liquor brought a host of international alcohol brands to India. Even brands that have existed in India for a long time are finally expanding their premium offerings.

“For us, millennial consumers are increasingly getting more discerning. They are travelling around the world and seeing great quality products and demand the same thing in India,” Anshuman Goenka, Head of marketing, Bacardi India had told Business Insider in an earlier interview. Bacardi recently launched an eight-year old fine rum called Ocho.

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The world’s third largest liquor producer – Beam Suntory, which has been in India for long with the likes of Teachers and Jim Beam, too launched its Japanese whiskey Yamazaki and Hibiki, along with the craft gin Roku. It also launched an Indian whiskey called Oaksmith.

In Haryana, Yamakazi and Hibiki both have a price tag of a whopping ₹20,000, although in Karnataka it is priced at ₹10,900 a bottle.

In fact, Beam Suntory global calls India as an emerging market priority.

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The recent economic slowdown in the country did affect the liquor market - but it also led to a new trend of premiumisation.

“Even with the economic slowdown, from a spirits point of view, it has resulted in a greater degree of premiumisation. They are drinking lesser but quality products as international brands continue to grow. The base of international brands is still tiny in India but when you look at 2019, the category still saw a 10% plus growth,” said Neeraj Kumar, Managing Director of Beam Suntory India.

Kumar added that the awareness around brands in India is growing, even though the consumption is limited to certain cities. “It’s not just about a particular category, for example, gin as a category is going through a renaissance so to say. In terms of whiskey, the quest of knowledge around single malt continues to be a driver for sales,” he said.

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Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO, Vbev India, said that the strong growth in International white spirits in India has been widely contributed by the millennials. Vbev recently introduced the premium Chinese Baijiu JIANGXIAOBAI Pure.

“We closely monitor and understand the consumption pattern as well as occasions for millennials,” said Singh.

He also believes that the segment of premium brands offer great promise. “The imported white spirits category has shown robust growth over the last few years and the cocktail culture is evolving as well,” said Singh.

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