United Breweries to introduce 5 imported beer brands in India
Kingfisher beer maker United Breweries will introduce five imported beers from parent Heineken challenging AB InBev’s Corona, Hoegaarden and Stella Artois
Bengaluru: United Breweries Ltd, the maker of Kingfisher beer, is in the process of introducing five imported beer brands from its Dutch parent Heineken NV in India, challenging Anheuser-Busch InBev—currently the market leader for imported beers.
UB has introduced these brands—Sol, Edelweiss, Affligem, Dos Equis and Desperados—in select markets a month ago and is now expanding to other markets, marketing head Samar Singh Sheikhawat said.
“We are very hopeful that with these five brands, we will have a solution for a consumer set who is looking for these offerings and did not find an answer in the UB portfolio. There is a growing market for this, a profitable market,” Sheikhawat.
UB—India’s largest beer maker—aims to capture a fourth of India’s imported beer market with these five brands, Sheikhawat said. Before these brands were launched, UB had no presence in that segment.
The new brands are expected to help UB expand its portfolio, enter a fast-growing segment, and partially offset the slowdown in the wider beer market. Of the five beers, Sol will take on Corona from Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Apart from Corona, which has a market share of around 49% in imported beers, Anheuser-Busch InBev also sells Hoegaarden (about 27%) and Stella Artois (5%) imported beers in India.
UB’s new beer brands will be priced between Rs240 and Rs290 a bottle. Alcohol by volume content in these brands ranges from 4.5% to 6.9%. They will all be imported and not manufactured or bottled in India.
Heineken owns a 43% stake in UB. Anheuser-Busch InBev operates as Crown Beers India Ltd.
According to UB, the market for imported beers is a tiny one, with almost a million cases selling every year.
However, it is growing in double digits while the overall beer market is stagnant. It has expanded from 650,000 cases to 950,000 cases between 2013 and 2016, according to a combination of the company’s internal estimates and customs data.
Imported lager was a three-million litre market by volume in 2016, according to data from Euromonitor International, which provides numbers only for imported lagers and not other kinds of imported beers. The total beer market clocked volume of 2.92 billion litres in 2016.
UB’s new beer brands will be priced between Rs 240 and Rs 290 a bottle. Alcohol by volume content in these brands ranges from 4.5% to 6.9%. They will all be imported and not manufactured or bottled in India.
“Price is not the chief determinant for this segment – provenance, story, heritage, beer experience etc is. Europe is associated with the best quality beers in the world, especially Belgian beers. Affligem is Belgian, Desperados is French and Edelweiss is Austrian,” Sheikhawat said.
Sol and Dos Equis are both beers from Mexico and the former is UB’s answer to Corona, which also originates in Mexico. The new brands will be available in markets like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Goa, Chennai and Hyderabad and are targeted at the young and affluent urban population.
“These are people who hang out, the affluent, for whom drinking is a casual, social pastime and they are heavily influenced by beers and in trying out new labels. That category is not too fussed about the price point and it is a growing market,” said Sreedhar Prasad, partner at KPMG in India.