Earlier this month, Australian wine brand Jacob’s Creek announced the launch of Unvined, a non-alcoholic wine with less than 0.5% alcohol. Pernod Ricard, which sells Jacob’s Creek in India, owns a wide portfolio of local and international brands such as Royal Stag, Blender’s Pride, Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, The Glenlivet, Jameson Irish whiskey, Absolut vodka and Money 47 gin.

In an interview, Kartik Mohindra, chief marketing officer, Pernod Ricard India, spoke about the increasing affinity of Indian consumers towards better drinking, and the company’s plan to launch several international brands. Edited excerpts:

What prompted you to enter the non-alcoholic wine category?

The genesis of this entire thing is that globally, there is a conscious consumer move towards low- or no-alcohol products. Consumers are concerned, and rightfully so, about drinking and driving. There are times when they don’t want to go for a high-alcohol product, but want to savour something in that zone to go through a particular evening. So, the trick is to make it look and taste like the actual product without the alcohol content and, the winemakers at Jacob’s Creek in Australia have done a fabulous job to create this product, which has less than 0.5% alcohol. It’s a wine without that kick that comes with it. We believe that India represents a massive opportunity for this product category.

Is this one of your first products in non-alcoholic category?

Yes, this is one of the first. But there will be a bunch of drinks that we are likely to roll out in the years to come. For instance, we are we are dabbling with, not no-alcohol, but low-alcobev whiskies and gins as the next wave of offering from us.

Craft beer maker Bira 91 to acquire The Beer Café

Will your retail focus change for these products?

For us, it’s a unique territory because the typical outlets for these, let’s say, the Jacob’s Creek Unvined, would be departmental stores and grocery stores. When we talk about the non-alcoholic product range that we are likely to build over a period of time, the company already has a completely separate team in there. A whole distribution network is being built as we speak including e-commerce capabilities so that these would represent the stronger channels for us to drive these particular products. For instance, Unvined is available on Amazon; so, you can technically procure it anywhere in the country.

Pernod Ricard has a very large portfolio. Do you plan to focus on a few premium brands?

Honestly, premiumization as a company vision and strategy is nothing new for Pernod. This has been a stated ambition and strategic intent from our side from the day we launched here. We’ve always occupied premium pricing to what the industry or segment benchmarks used to be. But our objective is to, of course, ride this macroeconomic wave that India is going through where consumers are uptrading and premiumizing.

Are you bringing any other brands from the international portfolio?

Yes; over the course of the next few years, we’re going to be looking at launching several new brands. From the international brands portfolio, we have just started to roll out a super-premium rum, which is Havana Club seven-year-old.

We are also looking at expanding in the imported gins category. So, gin, especially in the top end of the pyramid in the urban centres, is getting stronger and stronger, although at a small base. So, we have a fabulous portfolio of brands in the global roster, which are going to be introduced in the coming months—it’s a super-premium Italian gin Malfy. We will also launch an ultra premium gin from Japan called Kinobi. We have our work cut out over the next few months in order to get into newer or emerging categories to invest for the future.

Cheers to the woman entrepreneur making a mark in the Indian alco-bev industry

What are the new consumption trends? The recent National Family Health Survey said that younger consumers are drinking less.

I think one of the trends that we can talk about for these guys is they believe in drinking more quality rather than quantity. And that’s what’s driving the premiumization trend. There’s also a lot of consciousness prevailing on the desire to remain in control. So, those things are great. But what younger consumers are also moving towards is a lot more experimentation. Unlike their predecessors, they don’t stick to only one category. They have a repertoire of categories that they on occasion will indulge in; so the same guys would be equally comfortable in enjoying a whiskey or gravitate towards gin or vodka or even wine depending on how they feel.

Mixology is on the rise. This is largely driven because of the lockdowns, where smaller home parties enabled people to get into DIY cocktails.

These are very interesting trends that the younger consumers are bringing to the table. It’s up to marketers to be consumer centric and remain relevant to these trends.

The above news was originally posted on www.livemint.com