Mumbai: Allied Blenders and Distillers (ABD) is India’s largest spirits company and the third largest in the country.
At ABD, we think differently. The category forces you to because many of the avenues open to consumer product marketers are unavailable, despite it being a trending industry with consumers and a very important revenue generator for governments. We simply cannot advertise in the media and therefore communicating product benefits or special offers is not part of our plan. However, it allows marketers in alcoholic beverage organizations to absorb much more human knowledge, which plays a role over time in building brand personality and positioning. Many successful brands have been able to develop their communication skills, albeit over time, to interact with consumers in different ways and create a story.
A marketer in the alcoholic beverages industry must be versatile and equally skilled in alcohol marketing as well as other categories essential to creating an environment, such as music, other arts of stage, lifestyle or large and small experiential events. The marketer must be able to join the invisible dots to create the big picture while working on every detail. The person must also be able to navigate a very strict regulatory environment for actual product labels and mandatory requirements as each state has a different set of rules that change almost every year.
In India, alcohol consumers go to points of sale and on site (bars, pubs, etc.). Engagement in these places is positive. While there is little time in traditional retail, modern commerce enables navigation and a better customer experience. Onsite is great for engagement because the consumer is there for a long time. Visibility, awareness and brand recall are also achieved through sponsorships, primarily sports and performing arts, with line extensions, which must be played by a rulebook. Communication has additional responsibilities in this category, and all large organizations understand this well.
The best way to engage consumers is through product innovation. India is primarily a whiskey-drinking country, with the exception of a few southern states, which primarily drink brandy. Limited editions, flavors, low-alcohol products, craft spirits and beer are all finding their marks and appealing to new consumers. It sparks curiosity in a category that is normally close to the hearts of its consumers.
ABD has just launched very disruptive products with Srishti Premium Whiskey with an infusion of curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric or haldi. Interestingly, the infusion has no change in the sensory; that is, in taste, aroma or color.
At ABD we have also launched Sterling Reserve B7 Whiskey Cola. We’ve taken the award-winning whiskey blend and infused it with cola to add spice to every drinking occasion. The whiskey cola mix retains the color of whiskey in the bottle, in a glass with water, soda or when consumed as a shot. It is sure to appeal to young audiences.
The ABD MetaBar is the very first. It’s our presence in the metaverse, and we launched our recent mainline launch of ICONiQ White Whiskey first on the MetaBar before our physical market launch. It illustrates how innovative thinking as a marketer can take different paths and position a brand and business differently while opening our minds to an almost unreal but so real future.
The author of this article is Bikram Basu, Director of Strategy, Marketing and Business Development at Allied Blenders and Distillers.