Marketing Director, AB InBev India
With the launch of Beck’s Ice in India, AB InBev will pioneer a new chapter in the Indian beer market. As the Indian beer market matures, the next wave of growth will be fuelled by the rapidly growing number of urban millennials. Millennials are set to embrace the sociability of beer with more men and women enjoying the beverage together than ever before. Beck’s Ice is designed to appeal to these next generation consumers with contemporary packaging, unisex positioning and easy-drinking liquid, perfect for both men and women. Brewed with 100% pure malt for ultimate refreshment Beck’s Ice is the perfect beer for an escape with friends. What better way to escape the high-pressure world of India’s urban jungles than with a Beck’s Ice and a few good friends. How will Beck’s Ice be different from other premium brands addressing these millennials? Kartikeya Sharma, AB InBev’s marketing director for India, adds in an interview, “As premiumisation continues, the trading up will become harder and harder because the gulf between the premium and entry-level will start increasing. As a result, we thought it best to have a portfolio bet on that price point and decided to position Beck’s as the midpoint to trade up,”.
Beck’s Ice was launched in Maharashtra and Karnataka with a 360-launch campaign comprising of digital film, social media campaign, outdoor, consumer promotions, experiential formats etc. that dramatizes the tension of living in India’s mega-cities and contrasts it with the pure world of Beck’s Ice. Sneha Nair, BW correspondent in conversation with Kartikeya Sharma on AB InBev’s latest launch into the India Beer markets.
AB InBev has one the most diverse portfolio’s, extremely strong towards premium brands, like Budweiser, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and most recently Beck’s Ice – What do you predict Beck’s contribution to be?
At AB InBev, we are committed to brewing the best beers using the finest natural ingredients and strive to offer the best brand experiences to our consumers in a responsible way. In the portfolio of AB InBev’s global businesses, India remains one of the largest growth opportunities given its current size and changing demographics. India is currently witnessing a strong trend towards premiumisation with a growth of 32%CAGR. As leaders in this segment with our brands – Budweiser, Hoegaarden and Corona, we are encouraged to offer our international brands to our consumers in India. The launch of Beck’s Ice will help us further leverage this positive trend to expand our reach to major markets across the country. Beck’s Ice, inspired by its German heritage from 1873 and made from 100% pure malt, delivers pure refreshment to our unisex consumers in a flint bottle that comes with a ring full feature.
The idea behind launching Beck’s Ice is to introduce a brand with strong international credentials that resonates well with our target audience – Millennials. (Especially when 19 million people of Legal Drinking Age coming to the hold every year in the country)
What was the reason behind tweaking the brand and the liquid for the Indian market?
As a responsible brewer, we are constantly evolving our beers to suit the palate of our consumers. We are continuously looking for new ways to refresh and create new products, build stronger brands and make more meaningful connections with our consumers and the communities where we live and work. European lagers tend to be a little too bitter for the quintessential Indian consumer. Hence, to cater to the Indian taste, we have worked together with our experts to alter the bitterness level while not compromising on the drink’s authentic taste and flavour.
Beck’s is to be priced almost 12-20% higher that entry-level brands, Why? How do you see to grow this brand with a higher pricing for the same premium segment?
Beck’s Ice is here to carve a niche for itself as it defies the usual norm of beer being a male centric commodity; it aims to transform the category audience to include women as well. As the Indian market continues to mature, the next wave of growth will be fuelled by rapidly growing urban millennials as they are set to embrace the sociability of beer with more women and men enjoying the beverage together than ever before. Beck’s Ice is available in Maharashtra at Rs.175 for 650 ml bottle and Karnataka at Rs. 140 for 650ml bottle respectively. It is currently priced at this rate with the aim of capitalising the pricing gap between those and the premium segment Budweiser operates in. That being said, Beck’s ice is a perfect blend of premium quality and reasonable price, this beer is available at a price cut well above the competition.
“In India today, only 1 in 8 women enjoy a beer compared to 1 in 2 in more mature markets”, What makes AB InBev classify Beck’s to appeal to women?
The brand has been built on a very strong consumer insight – Young Urban Millennials who seek an escape from their everyday monotonous life to something pure. As the market grows, more women under this segment are embracing and enjoying the beverage together. The 100% malt produced Beck’s Ice, ensures its smooth and crisp taste makes it easy for urban millennials to enjoy this refreshing taste and develop a liking for.
Where do you see India’s beer market 5 years from now and AB InBev’ market share then?
India’s beer market has constantly been evolving over the years with the change in cultural attitudes and a younger more increasingly affluent population. India is one of the most important market for us especially with more than 19 million Indians each year become old enough to drink legally. We have made a significant business progress in the country over the last few years and have gained a leadership position. The right product mix is crucial for any business to be successful and we offer a large diverse portfolio of brands with a range of products to our consumers across markets and segments – Global Brands: Budweiser, Beck’s Ice, Corona, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe and Local brands – Haywards5000, KnockOut, Fosters and Royal Challenge. We also have a local innovation as Budweiser variant – Budweiser Magnum.
Our goal is to be India’s leading responsible brewer with exponential growth led by acceleration of our global brands. We plan to leverage the positive trend towards premiumisation coupled with product and packaging innovations, that will help us further expand our reach in major markets across the country. We look forward to keeping up this momentum, anticipate better ease of doing business in India and our plans to launch new products/variants across categories.