The beer stalwart
The beer stalwart

Kingfisher is a name synonymous for beer in India today. It is giving stiff competition of Indian as well as international labels in the segment. In an interaction with Neha Malhotra, Samar Singh Sheikhawat, Senior VP, Marketing, United Breweries Ltd shares intricacies of the business.

Neha Malhotra (NM): What is the stature of the beer industry in India?

Samar Singh Shekhawat (SSS): The size of the industry today is about 250-260 million cases. It is dominated by strong beer which has 84 per cent share to its name. Strong beer contains about eight per cent alcohol and is mainly consumed in the semi urban and rural areas. Light beer has about four per cent alcohol with 16 per cent market share. This is mainly consumed in the cities.

NM: Why has the market for strong beer grown over the years?

SSS: The market for light beer used to be higher before but strong beer has been growing at 15 per cent and has overtaken the market for light beer. Strong beer has higher alcohol content and mostly people drink to get the kick.

NM: Kingfisher is much loved across the country. What makes it special?

SSS: Kingfisher is brewed according to the Indian palette and goes very well with Indian food. We also maintain our consistency which people appreciate. Kingfisher has been a fashionable brand and it shows through our marketing initiatives as well. So we are offering accessible glamour which people appreciate. We have built this image over the last 10-15 years.

NM: Where does Kingfisher and Heineken see greatest sales?

SSS: For Kingfisher, the highest volume sales are witnessed in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bombay and Karnataka. While for Heineken, maximum sales are seen in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore.

NM: How many breweries do you have at present? How well do Indian beer compete with the international counterparts?

SSS: We have about 30 breweries across India. As far as Indian and imported beers are compared, Indian beers have a much larger market and there isn’t any competition. Indian beer stands at about 260 million whereas for imported beer is just about half a million.

NM: What factors act as enablers for this industry’s growth?

SSS: India has a huge population under the age of 25 which is its biggest advantage. Also the climate in India is 80 per cent hot for about 80 per cent of the year, so this creates suitability for the consumption of beer. Also beer has become more socially acceptable which has added to its growth.

NM: Is Modern retail aiding the growth of the industry?

SSS: Modern retail at present contributes only a mere percentage of about one per cent. Bangalore however has a little higher number of three to four per cent. The retail shops still contribute to about 98 per cent of the sales. However, people are enjoying shopping in a good ambience at up market stores and the concept will catch up but is slow at present.

NM: What future do you see or this industry?

SSS: The industry has a bright future ahead and is witnessing robust growth in double digits. It still has a long way to go.




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