MUMBAI: Traditionally known to be a whiskey and rum market, India, in the past few years, has developed a fine taste for beers as well. They have started differentiating and accepting that beer, amongst the larger alco-beverage offerings, offers refreshment in a far more suitable manner across a larger number of occasions. They are open to trying newer brands and variants of the drink, which has become omnipresent at all parties.
United Breweries is one of the largest players in India’s beer market and has been serving its loyal patrons for many decades now. Now, with an intention to provide adequate choices and variety in its portfolio, the brand has recently launched its first craft beer, the Kingfisher Ultra Witbier, which it terms as an authentic Belgian Wheat beer.
Indiantelevision.com got in touch with United Breweries Ltd head of marketing Gurpreet Singh to know about the brand’s strategy with the new offering and their marketing plans.
We were keen to know if they have purposefully launched the beer near the Christmas and New Year, but Singh told us otherwise. He candidly said that the brand was busy running extensive research and tests for the development of the product and it is just an added advantage that the final offering got ready close to the festive season.
Elaborating more on the approach, Singh said, “Over the years, we have been observing that there is a small section of consumers who have shown growing interest in alternate categories of beers. The craft beer space is an interesting development in the beer category, having grown from just a few microbreweries initially to now a host of craft beers in the pre-packed format as well. Some of the offerings in this craft space such as the wheat beers have seen consistent demand which has continued to show signs of growth, displaying adequately a strong trend line.”
He added, “The wheat beer segment within the various craft offerings therefore have interested us and we have spent some time understanding how the taste preferences towards this variety has developing and where the gaps and opportunities lie. We did not want to rush in to this segment since these are complex beers and we ran extensive tests across key markets.”
Singh is hopeful that consumers will ‘enjoy’ this new years’ ‘gift’ from the house of UB.
Kingfisher Ultra Witbier has already been put on shelves across the states of Karnataka and Goa and will soon be available in Maharashtra, Delhi, and Haryana.
Speaking about the launch plan, Singh shared that the initial focus for them is going to be digital media as a medium of marketing to build awareness, coupled with on-ground visibility across channels, and an aggressive trial generation plan. “The retailers too will find the Ultra Witbier an easy brand to recommend to their regular consumes. The brand Kingfisher Ultra is well known and retailers trust the consistent quality and supply that UB brings to the table,” he noted.
Though Kingfisher is known for its impressive lineup of brand ambassadors from the cricketing world, it is skipping having one for the new offering for now and is creating its marketing strategy only around the craft beer.
Singh shared, “We are currently keeping the narrative entirely about the beer. The marketing is entirely positioned around the authenticity of the brew right from the origins of its ingredients to its style of brewing."
Further elaborating on the marketing plan, he said, “We are sampling the Ultra Witbier to the beer connoisseurs and we expect their reviews and opinions to influence the other consumers. We are supremely confident of the product and expect the trickle-down effect of this knowledge transfer to eventually influence a large cross section of the beer consumers across the country. Social media and digital marketing will help reach this message to the larger masses.”
On being asked how is it planning to compete with the already existing and prominent craft beer brands, Singh showed good faith in the propensity the consumers have towards Kingfisher’s products.
He said, “In this small segment of wheat beers there is already a host of brands that are available. In a crowded shelf of wheat beers the familiarity of a Kingfisher Ultra name and the trust that consumers have towards the quality of our beers will go a long way in generating trials not just with the existing craft beer consumers but also many other consumers who are open to experimentation.”