The International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) has released a report stating that high-end, large-format liquor retail stores are seeing up to 30% higher sales of premium alcohol brands across whisky, wine, and beer in markets where they are present.

The report also notes that more women are shopping at these stores, as they are considered safer compared to regular stores. Overall, shoppers find these premium stores to offer a more relaxed browsing experience, and states are generating better revenues from these premium outlets.

Nita Kapoor, CEO of ISWAI, stated that the transformation in the alcobev retail environment, with larger browsable retail formats with a range of imported and domestic brands and category innovations, is opening up a world of opportunity.

Rahul Singh, CEO and founder of Beer Cafe, noted that there is an imminent generational shift in the way alcobev drinks are being bought and consumed, with mass products pivoting into craft and consumers drinking better leading to the premiumisation of the category. Executives added that these premium gourmet-style stores offer a higher experience, variety, and relaxed browsing, leading to more trials, experimentation, and impulse consumption, as well as offering brand activation opportunities.

According to Prem Dewan, Managing Director of DeVans Modern Breweries, which makes beer and single-malt whisky, high-end liquor stores have taken care of the customers who used to fulfil their premium liquor requirements either from duty-free shops or from the black market, which had limited availability of brands. Dewan also noted that these high-end liquor stores are equivalent to five-star outlets with their ambience, ample space for consumers to pick brands of their choice, and competitive rates.

Vineet Sharma, Vice President of Marketing at AB InBev India, stated that premium liquor stores help drive sales of their high-end brands across urban centres. He added that the retail experience across smaller towns remains a challenge.

The ISWAI report, along with global research agency IPSOS, found that bigger sizes for whisky are more popular at premium stores, while smaller sizes are driving more beer consumption. It also noted that 18% of whisky brands and 34% of beer brands have a higher offtake at premium stores compared to regular outlets.