Despite roadblocks of the previous year (the policy of prohibiting sale of liquor alongside state and national highways,) Bacardi India claimed to have a smooth run and consistent rise as the fastest growing international spirits company. This year is going to be no different according to Anshuman Goenka, General Manager-Marketing, Bacardi India Private Limited.
Bacardi introduced its portfolio of global whiskies in India last December, including new premium variants of its Dewar's and William Lawson to boost growth and market share in India's whiskey-dominated spirits market. Goenka is attempting to change the definition of scotch marketing to reach out to a younger crowd by having it served with a cola in a beer glass through its on ground activities. In a chat with exchange4media, the General Manager-Marketing delved further into those plans, besides talking about their latest property Bacardi House Party Sessions, promotion for whiskey and marketing strategy for 2018.
You introduced premium variants of Dewar's whiskey in India. What is the marketing strategy for this premium whiskey?
William Lawson is available in 18 states. Dewar's is available in 12 states. We are going national with both brands. On Dewar's we launched our premium version last year, 12-year, 15-year and 18-year-old. We are distributing them in all the top bars and clubs in the country. With Dewar's, we had this program with comedian Kanan Gill called 'I Can Do That.' He identifies five things he is passionate about. So Dewar's gives him that opportunity where he was paired with five mentors from each field. We spent a week with them learning, following which he displayed it at a live event. It was social media and on ground marketing.
Dewar's messaging is 'live true.' It's about going to a younger audience who is looking to drink scotch because scotch is becoming younger in the country. With William Lawson, our mascot is Highlander. We are investing a lot on William Lawson Highlander Invasions and on ground activation. 'No rules great scotch.' It is basically the antithesis of how scotch marketing is done. The drinking strategy is William Lawson and cola, served in a beer glass. It's a non-traditional way of marketing scotch. That's something which is really working for us across most metro markets like Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
What's the scale of your new property Bacardi House Party Sessions?
Bacardi House Party Sessions reached massive scale because we have got distribution muscle with All India Bakchod (AIB.) Because of their extensive reach, we have been able to give this music to millions. The kind of scale we are talking about is immense. It's all a part of our music strategy because it connects with NH7 Weekender music festival because the artistes (from Bacardi House Party Sessions) get to perform there at the House Party Session stage. So it all connects as part of the larger play on music. We look at it as one wholesome campaign idea and not as individual pieces. We partnered with AIB and Nucleya. They are the best whether it's music fraternity or social media. We partnered with the best to make some really great content, making sure that it gets millions of fans. Then it all ties back and comes alive at the NH7 Weekender music festival. It kind of closes the loop collectively.
This is an annual property. We want to continue investing on it.
What's your overall marketing strategy for 2018?
Music is going to be central to what we do. We are going to focus on two big things, Bacardi House Party Sessions and Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Both of these are very well entrenched into music in clear spaces. Next year we are going to amplify these two in greater level. Bacardi House Party will be a five to six months campaign.
We are going to be working with the artists in the long run and get them to perform at some of our events. We will then tie them with NH7 Weekender Festival. We will integrate Bacardi into everything that we do. (We do a lot of Bacardi House Party Events in pubs and bars.) It's about investing behind a long-term relationship with each of the identified artists.
How are you trying to increase your market share?
We are doing it through a combination of things. We are focused on premiumisation, a big trend we are seeing in the country. We have Bombay sapphire and Star of Bombay. We have a pretty inclusive portfolio that caters to every premium segment. The entire portfolio is coming together next year.
In whiskey, we are going to concentrate on William Lawson's and Dewar's. Both brands have seen good success in the market. As they go national with our portfolio coming alive across pubs and bars, we are going to be able to do a lot more than before.
We will activate all these brands. Historically we were doing it only with Bacardi and Breezer. Now we are doing it with William Lawson Dewar's. We are making a lot more noise in the market. As a result, market shares are improving. Growth is improving. Bacardi rum continues to grow in healthy double digits because premiumisation is working in favour of the brand. Breezer continues to grow double digit.
Grey Goose and Bombay Sapphire are jewels in our portfolio. Each of these four brands is a market leader in the segment. We are able to create a dent in the scotch with William Lawson and Dewar's because of its cool positioning.
The market share for rum has contracted by 9 per cent to Rs. 19,135 crore in 2017. How has it impacted Bacardi rum?
The share of rum that's going down is only at the cheap segment. We operate in premium rum segment where we have 97 per cent share. This segment is growing at healthy double digits.
What are your big properties for 2018?
On Bacardi, we have Weekender and Bacardi House Party Sessions. On Breezer, we are going to have Breezer Vivid Shuffle, hip hop dance and music platform. On Dewar's we have a property called Dewar's Club which is getting activated across multiple pubs and bars. On William Lawson's, we have William Lawson's Invasion. We have 'Fly Beyond Tonight' with our vodka Grey Goose. We have well defined properties across all our brands.
The properties are investments which help us build equity. The entire strategy is based around how culturally relevant we are. We will continue to invest behind each of these properties and make them bigger every year.
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