We expect alcohol demand to pick up, but gradually: Vineet Agrawal, Jack Daniel’s India

Agrawal, Marketing & Commercial Director, India, Brown-Forman Worldwide LLC (known for Jack Daniel's) feels marketers need to understand what consumers need and don’t need from brands right now

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: May 25, 2020 8:29 AM

While green and orange zones may be selling alcohol, it is actually the freezing of the hospitality and travel & tourism industry that is pinching liquor brands. From putting together campaigns to sharing DIY cocktail recipes on digital platforms to crowdfunding for professionals in the sector, liquor brands are putting up a tough fight against the pandemic, which has struck the already slowing economy. At the moment, the industry's core focus area is keeping the customer engaged.

Vineet Agrawal, Marketing and Commercial Director, India Area, Brown-Forman Worldwide LLC, popular for the premium whiskey brand Jack Daniel's talks to E4M about the challenging times, the roadblocks in the liquor industry and the way ahead


 The lockdown has been a challenging time for brands with sales touching an all-time low. How has the crisis impacted your business?

The entire situation around the COVID-19 crisis has truly been unprecedented and unpredictable. These are difficult times, for not only businesses or the alcohol industry but also everyone. We have also been impacted accordingly, but we are positive that things will improve once business resumes.

Unlike other categories of products, alcohol has been much in demand, and with relaxation in lockdown rules, buyers are back to stores. How have sales picked up?

With the government lifting the restrictions on the sale of alcohol in some parts, the industry is slowly getting back on its feet. However with hotels and bars still closed, increased taxes in some states and continued restrictions on tourism and travel, we expect demand to pick up only gradually.

Tell us about your Tip Jar Crowdfunding Initiative.

The food and beverage industry, with the restaurants and bar business, in particular, is facing grave uncertainty due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, resulting in most of the outlets reeling under severe financial stress. Given the unprecedented situation, Jack Daniel’s stands committed to extending support to one of the most important members of our community – the bartenders and the wait staff.

Our crowdfunding tip-jar initiative is aimed at raising money for this community, who have been severely affected due to the coronavirus outbreak. With every online tip that users contribute, Jack Daniel’s will also provide financial support to support this community.

We have also received support from a lot of key opinion leaders in the industry to spread the message and create awareness around this initiative. It is live now and will run till 31st May 2020 

Marketers are trying to resume communication with their TG. What are you doing to market your brand? Tell us a little about the kind of campaigns you are taking up?

We recognize that these are challenging times and In the midst of all this, consumer/shopper sentiment and behaviours are shifting rapidly every day. While it is important to keep talking to people and our TG, it is also important to be relevant and meaningful. Last month, we launched a campaign around social distancing, which shares the new reality we are all facing as humanity, and how our friends around the world are adapting. It shows the genuine moments that people are having to continue to feel connected. We believe this spot is a timely message of optimism and hope.

The spot is titled “With Love, Jack” and has been launched globally in multiple languages across Jack Daniel’s social platforms. As mentioned earlier, we are also trying to reach out to the bar-tending community in India and support them directly as well as through a virtual tip jar crowdfunding initiative which Jack Daniel’s is also funding.

 Also, given the increasing home consumption occasions, we are exploring various ways to tap into this opportunity by sharing DIY cocktail recipes with consumers and online collaborations with relevant partners/influencers.

Most brands across categories have been doing a lot of moment marketing keeping in mind the gravity of the present crisis that the entire world is going through. Are you doing the same?

The current COVID-19 outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy affecting millions of people around the world. As we are all aware, this has deeply impacted how people live their day-to-day lives, what their priorities are as they cope with significant change and disruption. It is at moments like these, that we as marketers, need to understand what consumers need and don’t need from brands right now, and in the foreseeable future. Hence our focus is to both address short term challenges as well as prepare our brands for the medium and long term.



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