In keeping with its focus on consolidating its business in India in 2011, premium beer brand Carlsberg has chalked out aggressive marketing plans for the coming months and has raised the budget by 40 per cent.
In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media, Devapriya Khanna, Director, Marketing, Carlsberg India Pvt Ltd, said, “We are planning to increase the market share for each and every brand of ours in 2011. We are following our portfolio strategy where we are developing mild beer brands as well as strong ones. We have specially designed plans for each brand and they will have their separate targets and budgets. So, there will be a 40 per cent increase in the marketing budget. We just need to be smart about what we spend where.”
Ready for competition
Brushing aside the threat from the competition, Khanna revealed that the brand had already sensed competitiveness in the premium strong beer category and was ready for it. She divulged, “The strong beer market in India is already very cluttered and competitive. There is a mix of international and Indian local players. We know it is going to get more competitive because after Tuborg Strong made inroads, many of our competitors are looking to introduce strong variants of their existing mild beer brands. Probably now we are the only ones in the premium strong beer segment, but there will be other established players launching their brands soon.”
Carlsberg recently launched Tuborg Strong in the Indian market and Khanna, while stating how good the response had been, also shared the market numbers. She affirmed, “The response has been fantastic. We have already acquired 6-7 per cent of the market share in some of the markets and looked at top 25 per cent of the beer consumers in India with the newly-launched beer brand. Recently, we also launched a surrogate for Tuborg Strong, called ‘Fungama Nights’, which binds fun, music and our brand together.”
When it comes to alcohol brands, BTL advertising is the most preferred due to the niche and restrictive aspects of the business. However, Khanna felt otherwise and sought to break the myth when she said, “ATL advertising has helped us and we will continue with this strategy. In fact, BTL activities might seem easy for an alcohol brand, but for us it is the most difficult part. I would say ATL is easy, because if you see some of the routes that we have taken, we have just used a basic template in most of the magazines, but when it comes to activation, coming up with a clutter-breaking idea and then trying to do it in a specific environment where your consumer is, that has actually been challenging.”
When asked about the turning point for the brand in India, Khanna replied that theirs was a clear strategy. “Our consumers were already aware of Carlsberg before it came to India, because these are a set of globetrotters, who have a lot of international exposure and who form the tip of the iceberg in terms of the consumer pyramid for us. So, there was a natural demand for it when we launched the brand in India,” she added.
“We tapped into that demand and also grew the customer base by doing a lot of lifestyle events. I wouldn’t say there has been a turning point as such, because the strategy was very clear that we had one brand at that time, which was an image brand and a brand driving profitability for the company, and we pitched it to the lifestyle segment,” Khanna concluded.