Have blockages during covid made alcohol consumption more acceptable in India?

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Recently, a relative complained about how her entrepreneur husband has started having drinks every night since the pandemic. He was not very fond of alcohol earlier and was only an occasional social drinker. However, the gregarious gentleman, who runs his own marketing consultancy firm out of Gurugram, made a habit of enjoying just one drink a day when the first lockdown was announced last year. A habit made during the strict days of social distancing, when he couldn’t visit his office or meet his friends, however, endured much to his wife’s dismay and probably to the delight of the liquor companies.

Several other people in friends and family circles have recognized similar changes in habits. In another case, a man drank his collection of Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, Black Label and Chivas 18 which he was stocking for his close friends. The die-hard vodka fan experimented with brown spirits and began to savor the taste.

In the absence of a mega-detailed survey of alcohol use during covid, anecdotal evidence points to several changes in consumer behavior towards alcohol, something even industry companies have spotted. .

During a conversation by the fireside during the mint Marketing Awards recently, Deepika Warrier, Director of Marketing at Diageo India, said that although research agencies have not been able to deploy their teams to track consumers, the company has spoken to its clients through groups. virtual and one-on-one. “We really depended more on our own observations of ourselves as consumers, our friends, our community and the little market visits we could do to figure out what was going on,” she said.

They observed that the permission to drink was increasing. Drinking was not as taboo as it used to be. “It suddenly became a lot more central for family reunions, smaller, more casual and intimate gatherings,” Warrier said.

In an interview with mint Last week, Hina Nagarajan, managing director and general manager of Diageo India, also said that alcohol has normalized to become almost semi-essential and people are drinking better since the pandemic. They prefer to have very high quality brands. Plus, home consumption leads to experimentation, “repertoire consumption” and discovery, she said.

In the pursuit of trying new things, many have gone beyond their usual brand of whiskey. “Along with the aspiration for global brands, we found that a huge local pride was developing. All of this artisanal phenomenon was born out of this pride and local heritage, ”Nagarajan said. This led the company to enter the Indian handicraft segment with a limited edition of the Epitome Reserve handcrafted whiskey.

Diageo owns Scotch whiskey brands such as Johnnie Walker, Black & White and J&B, Smirnoff Vodka and Gordon’s and Tanqueray gin.

The pandemic has caused other things. Among them, home delivery was unlocked during the covid. “We are gradually seeing states take a very positive view and open up. We now have six or seven states that do door-to-door deliveries. While it takes time for these models to evolve… we are working with retailers, regulators to see which models are best for home delivery, ”Nagarajan said.

In the past two years, alcohol companies have also launched non-alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Last week, international brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) launched its first energy drink, Budweiser Beats, claiming here that it is a logical extension of its non-alcoholic beers for Budweiser and Hoegaarden launched earlier. , a segment growing at 19-20% a year.

Globally, the company’s ambition is for drinkers to incorporate non-alcoholic beers and beers with 3.5% or less ABV (alcohol by volume) into their beverage choices. In 2018, India’s largest beer maker United Breweries Ltd also entered the soft drink market with the launch of Kingfisher Radler. Most companies see this segment take off and plan their products accordingly.

Nagarajan also said Diageo will keep the consumer at the center while planning the products. “I would say one of the things we’re really changing is to look at… what are the growth opportunities going forward, what future trends you know are moving globally that could gain traction in India. . So we are adopting a much more future rear lens right now, ”she said.

Post-covid, on a global scale, Nagarajan sees the trend towards moderation and overall holistic well-being coming into play with potential for low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks, especially among millennials.

Shuchi Bansal is Mint-flavoured editor-in-chief of media, marketing and advertising. Ordinary Post will address pressing issues related to all three. Or just fun stuff.

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