Mahou India follows launch, learn & scale philosophy: Ramita Chaudhuri, Chief Marketer

Chaudhuri says the brand caters to the premium segment and engages with audiences through two broad pillars - gastronomy and football

e4m by Shweta Raaj Singh
Published: Apr 5, 2019 8:44 AM  | 7 min read

Mahou group, a 128-year-old Spanish beer brand, has launched Mahou Meastra Wheat Beer in India.

Exchange4media caught up with Ramita Chaudhuri, Chief Marketer, Mahou India, on the vision behind the India launch, their marketing campaign, branding and positioning. 

What is the vision behind Mahou Meastra Wheat launch in the Indian market?
The conceptualisation and launch of Mahou Maestra Wheat (MMW) is a result of our extensive research in India that underlined the potential of a differentiated product like MMW. It is the perfect fusion of Spanish and Indian flavours – a mixture of Sevillian (Spanish) orange peel and Himalayan organic coriander making it delectable, light and easy to drink.

Mahou Maestra Wheat holds the distinction of being the first ‘Made-in-India’ Spanish wheat beer as well as the first wheat beer in India to come up with a pull-off cap on the bottle, as part of its premium packaging.

Tell us about the marketing campaigns for Mahou India? What are the key areas the company is looking at in terms of marketing, branding and positioning?
Mahou beers are meant for the evolved beer drinkers and we want to create a unique beer consuming experience for beer enthusiasts in India. We cater to the premium segment and engage with our audiences through two broad pillars across all our marketing campaigns - gastronomy and football.

We are introducing not only the taste of Mahou in India but also the culture associated with Mahou in Spain – such as Cañas and Tapas. We are organising events and activations in the on-trade market to promote this Spanish lifestyle of food and beer in a social and responsible consumption context.

We have interesting global sponsorships, being the official partner of the coveted football club in La Liga - Real Madrid and also Atlético de Madrid. The partnership extends to India and we are working with La Liga to promote football in India, connecting with football and beer lovers in the process.

How are you communicating the brand and its visual identity in the Indian market? 
Mahou is a premium brand meant for the younger, evolved, well-travelled audiences and these traits reflect in our packaging as well. Our packaging exudes the youthfulness and classiness associated with the brand, while still being different for our various products.

For instance, Mahou Maestra Wheat appeals to the discerning consumers who are a master (maestra) in their lifestyle choices and are accustomed to high-quality experiences. For them, we have created a three-coloured brand identity – blue, gold and beige. Our other premium products – Mahou 5 Star and Mahou Clasica – are also easily recognised owing to their unique red-coloured and green-coloured cans.

How much have you spent on digital platforms?
Digital and social platforms are an indispensable part of any brand’s marketing plans, especially for a brand in our category that thrives on the word of mouth, influence and impulse decisions. With a young, vibrant and growing online population, we focus on strong digital campaigns that engage the right audiences through the right content. Our digital spends form a considerable part of our annual marketing budgets and the pie is only increasing based on the ROI that we’ve got so far.

How pertinent is content or brand content to stay ahead in the digital world?
While at the moment of truth, the taste of a beer determines whether the consumer will return for another pint, it is up to the right content to ensure that the consumers want to try the product in the first place. It is critical to engage consumers, especially potential consumers, with the right content to achieve the desired product differentiation. Especially today when the market is flooded with newer Indian and international beer brands, all vying for mindspace targeting the same demographic set. At Mahou, all our content is designed to talk to a specific audience, across all platforms.

What can be expected in the future from Mahou in India?
We follow a launch, learn and scale philosophy and that philosophy has already yielded substantial business outcomes since we entered India. Our initial products - Mahou 5 Star and Mahou Clasica – have been the category favourites since launch and we’ve been overwhelmed by the consumer response and industry accolades received for Mahou Maestra Wheat as well.

We have recently extended our presence in some states in the South and North-east of the country. We will continue to strengthen our geographical  footprint while also expanding our portfolio. We are committed to being in India for the long term, and we will grow the right way.

Does the company view India as a prosperous market?
Yes, indeed. The Indian beer market holds a huge potential. Over the years, beer consumption patterns in India have changed as have consumers’ tastes and preferences. Beer is slowly becoming the default social drink, is gender neutral and is consumed on occasions where people want to spend quality time together. This evolution is a great opportunity for Mahou India specifically and for all international players in general to grow the business pie.

Our India entry is a key strategic pillar for the growth of our business. It is the only market outside of Spain where we have a subsidiary. Our brewery in Rajasthan is one of the eleven we operate, 8 of which are in Spain and 2 in the US.

In terms of reach, how are you targeting your consumers?
Our target audience is the young urban millennial who has an appetite for the beer drinking culture as part of social interactions. They enjoy mild flavoured beers with low alcohol content and are open to experiencing great taste. With the trend of newer varieties of beer getting popular along with the craft beer revolution in India, we want to cater to this set of consumers who are open to trying to newer things, and also willing to pay a premium for premium quality. We are reaching them through our online and on-ground campaigns, promotions and influencers, giving them a taste of the true Spanish culture.

How sports as a medium has helped Mahou India in establishing the company's brand in the market?
Football is an important part of our marketing campaigns. The strong affinity that we Indians are developing for football today, is a common bond between India and Spain. Continuing our strong legacy of association with La Liga and being official sponsors of Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, we are now partners of La Liga India as well. We have also organised corporate football tournaments in the past where major Indian corporate houses have participated. We are making consistent efforts to promote the sport in our country and will continue to create a strong football culture in India.

Does Mahou India have CSR initiatives on socially responsible drinking? If yes, could you talk to us about a few?
We, at Mahou India, strongly believe in paying back to the environment and the society in whichever way it is possible. In 2015, to mark World Water Day, Mahou Group launched an initiative to supply water to 27 families across 10 villages in Churu desert by building 27 tanks in one of the country's driest regions. Since then, we’ve launched several other initiatives to improve forestation, sanitation and water access in select parts of Rajasthan.

How different is your approach to the Indian market than it was for Spain? How are you bringing the Spanish lifestyle in India?
In Spain, Mahou commands one-third of the production share and is a household name, whereas in India, we are still in the process of building awareness around the brand and the Spanish beer culture. We are establishing the concept of Spanish gastronomy along with the taste of Mahou in India and we hope Mahou will soon become an essential companion with food.

We have received great support from consumers and the industry since our launch and we will continue to strengthen that through increased brand love among the evolved beer drinkers.

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