Jimmy’s was founded by Ankur Bhatia in September 2019. With extensive years of experience being associated with spirits major Beam Suntory, where he was heading marketing, he had a perceptive of the trends and gaps in the drinking culture and the opportunities that lay there.
In recent years, bars have been seeing a steady upward trend in the demand for cocktails. This certainly signals a changing consumer palate and the desire to enhance and upgrade the drinking experience. This growing preference, however, seemed limited to the bars as people found it hard to replicate the multiple flavors and complexity of creating a cocktail at home. Home bar mixers have been boring and uninspiring for a long time and therein lay the opportunity to cater to this growing group of consumers, ready to take their home drinking experience to the next level.
Recognizing this opportunity, he decided to take the plunge, and launch India’s first Premium Cocktail Mixer – Jimmy’s Cocktails. Furthermore, he launched the first range of mixers in September 2019 only in select stores in Delhi/ NCR so that he could get a little time to understand consumer response to the product.
“During this time, I was Regional Sales Head at Red Bull India, and I got a chance to meet Ankur. We discussed his new venture and I quickly decided to join his vision as co-founder. He connected with me to get a deeper understanding of sales and distribution of premium beverages in India, and I was really impressed with his vision,” says Nitin Bharadwaj, Co-Founder & COO Jimmy’s Cocktails.
Impact of Pandemic
The pandemic pushed us to accelerate our online channel sales. Setting up full-fledged D2C operations amid an unforeseen and unprecedented crisis was extremely challenging.
“In six months’ time when we all were all set to launch in retail across multiple cities, Covid-19 happened. We stepped up and accelerated plans to start D2C operations with the launch of the website in April 2020, starting with deliveries only in Delhi/ NCR. In August 2020, Jimmy’s started delivering nationally via online sales and expanded their retail network to 20 cities,” he further adds.
In less than a year, the brand has served over 1 million cocktails across India and scaled its presence to 2,500 retail outlets, and achieved 20x growth in revenue. The online sales channel, comprising primarily of their own website, has allowed the brand to deliver Jimmy’s to over 400 cities in the past year and D2C now contributes to 40 percent of their total revenue.
“During the first wave, the impact was more logistic in nature, however, the second Covid wave hit us harder largely due to the impact on retail sales on account of lockdowns and personal caution at an all-time high. Despite that, our online business continues to grow very fast and as markets open up and consumer confidence improves, we are looking at achieving our targets comfortably,” he asserts.
“As a business, we are yet to see a high-sprits consumption festive period like Holi, Diwali, New Year which the consumers can freely celebrate without the fear of an infection looming over their head,” he further adds.
Changing Consumer Behavior
While business was challenged in 2020 and early 2021 by the pandemic, it also has brought in unique opportunities for brands such as Jimmy’s.
“One of the key global post-pandemic trends is consumers gathering at home in small bubbles or close groups v/s going to a bar or restaurant. Occasions such as this provide for a very high volume opportunity. Other trends like an overall spike in at-home spirits consumption, easing of regulations by several states for spirits e-commerce in India, meteoric rise for the D2C category, and a penchant for trying, exploring new categories at home are all aiding our category and brand build,” Bharadwaj states.
“As people seek mindful options, low-ABV and non-alcoholic cocktails provide an alternative, and the market is continuing to grow at a fast pace. Jimmy’s can be consumed directly as a low-calorie mocktail,” he adds.
Retail and Marketing Strategy
To build Jimmy’s as a retail brand, the company is focusing currently on the top 50 markets based on the MPV (market potential value) model that it has created.
“This model also includes weighted outlet coverage by market, where even in a smaller city we know the top 10 percent of relevant, high performing outlets for our category. We focus on those. Also, we continue to have a full focus on availability in all the national and regional e-commerce and modern trade accounts and selected segments (top-weighted) in the general trade market,” he shares.
“Ours is a unique business wherein we are not really building a new category but bringing out a high consumption trend erstwhile stuck in bars. To do this we will now look at using the retail channels to deliver key message to the consumers, the same way we have been successfully using social media for our online business,” he further adds.
Although Jimmy’s started as a retail-focused brand its shift to a +D2C model started during the first wave of lockdowns.
“Given our corporate backgrounds, we heavily relied on data to plan our in-market strategies and future plans. A parallel D2C operation gives us an abundant goldmine of data to mine, including who should be our core target audience, which cities are buying what which in turn allows us to plan our future SKUs, and where we should invest expanding our retail footprint. Currently, we are creating symbiotic systems enabling our D2C and retail business to work more cohesively,” he asserts.
Technology: Helping Reaching More Consumers
Jimmy’s runs a very traditional FMCG operation built on a multi-distributor model. The only difference for the brand is their ability to micro-mine insights from the abundance of data that running a D2C model presents and deploy strategies based on such insights back into the retail trade.
“Such proximity and understanding of real-time consumer behavior and product use cases is not available to the best of FMCG companies in India,” he says.
Cocktail mixers are still a nascent category in most markets around the world. The brand has its sights set beyond the Indian market, with a long-term objective of building a global brand from India.
“In the coming months, we are looking at distribution arrangements in other countries part of Indian sub-continent, Africa, Middle East, South East Asia as well as Australia. We have already shipped to Australia and are in discussion with most emerging markets,” he shares.
The brand clocked Rs 7.3 crore in its first year of operation even when it launched national operations in July-August last year. Over the next 3 years, the brand intends to take its business performance to Rs 100 crore.
The brand is also planning to expand its distribution reach to the top 5,000 retail outlets within this financial year.
“Jimmy’s is positioned as a mixer to accompany premium spirits. Cocktail mixers are just the first of our offerings and we intend to add many more exciting variants to the current mixers range, as well as other innovative products which fit seamlessly with this consumption occasion,” he concludes.