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“We Believe Labels Are For Bottles, Not People.” Says Anant, Co-Founder at Bored Beverages

Two childhood buddies who grew close over drinking came up with the idea for Bored Beverages. Bored Beverages is a Brainchild of Anant and Vinayak, founded to provide novel and distinctive drinks to the Indian taste palates at an affordable price. No Label Original Mead is a light and crisp beverage prepared by fermenting honey with an alcohol strength of 7% (just there in the sweet spot) and is designed to lift your spirits.

In the interview below, Anant Gupta, Co-Founder at Bored Beverages (parent comapny of No Label)  talks about the challenges he faced while establishing the brand and how No Label celebrates the spirit of craft and the land of rich botanicals.

Hi Anant, can you tell us when and why you decided to enter the beverage space? 

Vinayak and I entered the alco-bev industry because of our love for the space coupled with a lot of introspection during the first lockdown. When we started exploring possible ways to enter the industry, mead came by as a great option due to the lower costs of entry, combined with its versatility. Our journey started with a 2,500km drive from Delhi to Nasik and back during the first lockdown (in the month of August), to scout for wineries and understand the production landscape of the country. We then moved on to produce our first batch in my room (which did not taste good at all). After about six months of in-house recipe development, experiments with 30+ honey types, 60+ recipe combinations and 100+ trial batches, we started our commercial production in July 2021 and launched in November 2021.

Tell us about your brand No label? How is it aiming to penetrate the Indian craft alcoholic beverages market?

The brand No Label came from our belief that we must accept and appreciate fellow humans for who they are and not see each other through a lens of labels placed by society based on ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, race, personality traits, and body types. We believe labels are for bottles, not people.

Developing the recipe for No Label Original Mead was a long learning curve. It took Anant a while to understand how fermentation works, though the online community (Reddit) was of great help. While coming up with the recipe for No Label Original, the goal was to create a light and refreshing drink that would work well as a counter to the soaring heat. A carbonated mead is light on the palate as well as on the body, which makes for an easy drinking experience. The focus was to create a citrus-forward drink suitable for summer.

After carefully analyzing the market, we realized the sense of ownership and belongingness which homegrown brands offer. The new, unique and innovative RTD sector has a huge scope, and therefore we see many homegrown brands step foot in the industry this year. The industry is growing rapidly, with over 100 million consumers joining the legal drinking age. Our focus is to target this set of consumers by focusing on changing consumer behavior and building a flavour-first portfolio with a brand that speaks to their ideology and preferences. We aim to create an easy drinking experience for consumers and make their transition from non-alcoholic drinks to alcoholic ones much smoother.

What makes No Label stand out in the market? What is so special about your product?

We have chosen a unique category to enter the alcohol market with. In a market that has been dominated by dark spirits and beer, we are defying the norms to create something led by flavour with No Label.

Within the category as well, No Label offers a light and crisp drink with uncomplicated flavours for the younger audience. Our product flavours and our brand ideology caters to the Millennials and GenZ.

How is No Label an Indian brand celebrating the spirit of craft and the land of rich botanicals?

As a homegrown brand, we are continuously experimenting with ingredients and flavours that haven’t been done before. We constantly try to innovate and bring something new, keeping the Indian consumers’ demands and preferences in mind. That is what we believe is keeping the spirit of the craft alive!

What were some of the challenges you faced while establishing the brand?

As a consultant and a lawyer entering the alco-bev industry, purely for the love of alcohol, one can only imagine the challenges we faced.

First was when we took the idea to industry folks. We were told that it is a capital-intensive industry and it will not be possible for us to make Bored Beverages possible without big pockets. However, we decided to go ahead, and the No Label you see on shelves across cities in India was made by us in-house after multiple rounds of experiments with the recipe.

Second was the category itself. Mead is so new even to the authorities that it caused delays in getting approvals and launching the product.

Third was Regulatory challenges – the level of intricacies and fine documentation required in the business took some time for us to get a hang of. The dynamic regulatory policy in Delhi brought many difficulties for new brands like ours. The complete overhaul to change the distribution structure across the city caused uncertainty, delay in the launch of the product and of course, a drastic change in strategy.

However, we’ve overcome these challenges by bringing on our board advisors and mentors who have helped us understand and navigate the regulatory landscape efficiently.

How has Covid affected the market, and how did it contribute to providing opportunities for newer brands like No Label?

We have observed a major shift in consumer behaviour during Covid, especially in the alcoholic beverages space.There are 2 trends that emerged during covid in India.

First being, Premiumisation of alcohol and shift to house consumption that provided alcohol brands with a rapidly growing source of new consumers seeking to define themselves as more sophisticated drinkers than their parents. Secondly, the desire for higher quality drinks at premium prices also thrived during the Covid pandemic. People were restricted from going out to their favourite restaurants and bars, consumers around the world spent their discretionary budgets on luxury experiences they could bring into the home, such as streamed entertainment services, gourmet meals, make-at-home cocktails, and sophisticated wines and spirits. Today, the consumers are willing to try and explore newer options and introduction of newer brands/categories surged as more and more consumers spend time online on platforms such as IG etc.

No Label was born at the peak of the pandemic. When other more established brands were trying to navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic, newer brands like No Label were being conceptualized and executed.

Who is your target market? How do you think consumer preference has changed over these years? 

With No Label, we’re targeting the Millennials and GenZ. Younger consumers joining the drinking age group are experimental and are moving away from bitter-tasting alcohol to drinks that are more flavourful and easier to drink. Mead offers the new age drinkers a smooth transition from carbonated non-alcoholic drinks to alcoholic ones and hence shall become the choice of drink for the age group. Within the category as well, No Label offers a light and crisp drink with uncomplicated flavours for the younger audience.

How are you leveraging social media for marketing your business? 

Social Media allows us to directly engage with consumers. We use the platform for community building and communicate brand values and ideology by focusing on creating content that speaks to our audience. We aim to drive value for the consumer by going beyond what is traditionally focused on by the alco-bev space online that is limited to promoting the product.

What are the future expansion goals?

No Label is presently registered in Delhi and Haryana in the North. In these 2 cities we are distributing and are available across 350+ outlets, some of the leading names include Social, Beer Café, Summer House, and Whiskey Samba, among others in Delhi and Gurgaon. We have covered 80% of our targeted retail outlets with a distribution-first focus. We are introducing a diverse flavour portfolio in the coming quarters, along with No Label Original Mead. As part of our next fiscal year strategy, we are focused on strengthening our presence in our current cities and expanding to Maharashtra in the West.

Lastly, what beverage market trends do you foresee in 2023?

There is a big shift away from beer and dark spirits. Consumers prefer an easy-to-drink beverage that is flavourful. This is because of the new age of first-time drinkers looking for a smooth transition from non-alcoholic carbonated (fizzy) drinks to flavourful alcoholic drinks. Cocktails were a big thing in 2020-22. New brands are recognising the changed consumer preferences, away from the bitter tasting traditional alcohol and to flavourful and comparatively healthier options, newer categories including Mead, Cider and Seltzer are being introduced.

Consumers are seeking flavourful yet healthier options in the market with low ABV and low-calorie counts. Post the Covid-19, consumers have become slightly more liberal in spending on leisure and lifestyle, at the same time being consciously driven towards better healthcare. They appreciate good experiences and are looking for value beyond the intrinsic value of the product.


Header Image: Anant Gupta and Vinayak Malhotra, Co-founders at  No Label