Alco-bev as a culture is constantly on the move. While it’s hard to generalise a single direction in which millions of consumers are moving, something we have noticed is that those under-30 are starting to choose quality over quantity. Effectively, they are drinking lesser (in quantity and frequency) than before, but are making a conscious effort to drink better quality beverages. Excerpts from the interview:
When we look at the gin market five years back, we see that only a few or 5% of the crowd would actually have an interest in gin. What has brought sudden growth?
Improved choice and accessibility to locally produced craft spirits has fuelled this culture shift. This is definitely not the isolated cause. Our increasingly globally mobile consumer base in India has been experiencing the beverage trends across the globe and has obviously recognised that Gin is a spirit which has been making its way back to the spotlight over the past decade.
You started Nao spirits in 2015 looking at the global trend. How do you see the market now?
Things were looking up in 2015, but the Indian market was still untested at that point. Things are still looking up in 2020 - the only change is that we now know that India does hold a great potential to be a Gin-quaffing nation.
We see that gin has become a part of top restaurant and bar menus now and people have replaced wine and whisky with gin. What are some of the benefits of gin?
Gin seems to be very well suited to our climate and our palate. We live in a tropical country where for the most part, it is hot and humid. A tall glass of Gin & Tonic as a refreshing and light drink seems to be the perfect fit to our climate. Throw in our penchant for oily, spicy foods, a drink which is able to cut through that and cleanse the palate with each sip should be most welcome. It’s not really a surprise that Gin & Tonic was invented in India - this is its second coming and we feel it will be truly impactful!
India is one of the complex countries when it comes to liquor consumption. What all legal hurdles you had to go through when it comes to both import and export of your product?
The hurdles are endless. We are absolutely happy to have found ways to navigate the complexities of the excise systems in India. It has taken a long while and a lot of patience to come this far and we are sure it will take even more going forward.
You are present across 8 cities in India and around 14 countries in the world. What did it take to build a global liquor brand?
Brand building is an on-going process. It’s a journey we are still only at the starting of. So, it might be a little early to answer this. From our perspective we are simply making sure we put our best foot forward, hence we focus on quality at all times and build on our authenticity which we are very proud of.
What is your expansion plan?
We would like to see both our Gins spread further across the map of India as well as the world. This year, we are looking at adding Haryana, Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh to our Gin Universe.
Who do you see as your competitor in the segment?
The Gin category is too small for in-fighting just yet. While there are new players coming into the category, we still look at the beer and wine categories as direct competitors. While the drinks themselves are not too similar to each other, they do share a similar space and are often presented together. This is why we have seen a lot of first-time Gin drinkers having previously preferred Wine or Beer as their drink of choice.
Tell us about your learning during the pandemic?
We learnt to sit back and take time to look at the business from a very macro perspective. We tried to understand what had worked well for us and what we needed to focus on. It’s an exercise which was massively beneficial and one that we hope we are able to make into a practice even after the end of the pandemic.