The Guinness United Distilleries & Vintners (UDV) plans to adopt a direct marketing route to promote its Johnnie Walker brand through the ‘Mentor Programme’ this year. The programme is aimed at spurring the imported scotch bottled in origin (BIO) whisky market.
The Mentor Programme is an audio-visual extravaganza that retraces the journey of John Walker and his inspired blend, Johnnie Walker Black Label. The programme also deals with creating awareness among consumers about the real taste of the original scotch and whisky brand as compared to that available in the grey market.
The move comes in the wake of the ban on liquor advertising. UDV had stopped releasing advertisements for Johnnie Walker brand to support the ban on liquor advertising last year, and is instead adopting direct marketing means to promote the brand.
UDV is in talks with prominent brand ambassadors to impart knowledge to the consumers about the brand heritage and tasting of single grain and malt whiskies that make up Johnnie Walker Black Label, through the touch and feel of the product.
The entire programme takes between 50 to 60 minutes per session and is run by Indian mentors who have been through extensive training in and around the Cardhu distillery in Scotland — the home of John Walker. The participants sample four distinct grain and malt whiskies that go into the Johnnie Walker Black Label blend.
The programme is based on the findings from a market research conducted by UDV, which revealed that in India the selling of spurious Johnnie Walker brands (content of one bottle of whisky and scotch, bottled in five different bottles blended with spurious content) in the grey market is on the rise.
The Indian whisky market is extremely price-sensitive with bulk of the market — 88 per cent — accounted for brands costing less than Rs 200 per bottle. The segment that has registered a high growth rate (at the top end) is growing very fast, but on a very small base). Of the 55 lakh-case total whisky market in India, UDV has a marketshare of 36.86 per cent in the cheap/medium segment, 47.78 per cent in the regular market, 11.95 per cent in the prestige market and two per cent in the premium and deluxe segments.
Currently, the market for cheap and medium whisky brands is growing at a rate of 46 per cent, premium and regular segment has posted a negative growth, whereas, prestige is growing by 11 per cent and deluxe segment is growing at a rate of 65 per cent.