Liquor firms bet big on festive season sales
Bengaluru: Liquor makers are betting big on the festive season to make up for dismal sales growth during the rest of the year. Liquor companies, whose sales fell because of demonetisation and the Supreme Court’s ban on sales near highways, expect this year’s festive season to yield growth exceeding 10%.
Firms ranging from market leaders United Spirits Ltd (USL), Pernod Ricard SA and United Breweries Ltd to John Distilleries Pvt. Ltd (JDL) are introducing gift and limited edition packs for some of their key brands while others like Allied Blenders & Distillers Pvt. Ltd (ABD) are launching new brands altogether.
“This year all our hopes are based on the festive season – whether we will make up. The first six months have been more or less a washout with no growth at all,” Deepak Roy, executive vice-chairman of ABD, said in an interview. The festive season typically accounts for around 30-35% of total sales during a financial year for liquor makers.
USL is introducing festive packs for its Royal Challenge whisky, a key brand in its prestige and above business segment, among other initiatives. Pernod is planning to launch festive packs for its whisky brands Chivas Regal 12 and Royal Salute, and for its single-malt whisky brand Glenlivet, a company spokesperson said in an email.
Beer maker UB, which expects strong single-digit sales growth during the season, is planning consumer promotion activities across its portfolio and is also planning geographic expansions of existing and new brands, according to its marketing head Samar Singh Sheikhawat. Rum maker Bacardi Ltd and wine firm Sula Vineyards are both launching event-based campaigns. Bacardi plans to run its NH7 Weekender music festival during the season and also launch a new campaign for its ready-to-drink beverage Breezer, the firm’s managing director Vijay Subramaniam said in an email.
Sula’s Globe in a Glass wine and spirits roadshow is going to be open to the public for the first time during the season, according to the company’s marketing head Cecelia Oldne.
Sula is also taking its grape spirit-based whisky brand, Eclipse, to additional markets this year. The festive season is when the wine firm sells the most number of bottles during the year, Oldne added.
John Distilleries Pvt. Ltd’s chairman Paul John also said the festive season is particularly conducive for sales of his firm’s wines and premium brands. The firm plans to launch new expressions of its single malt whiskies for the season.
ABD, which expects 18-20% growth this festive season, according to Roy, is in the process of launching a new rum in the regular price segment under its Officer’s Choice brand.
It is also launching a new brand of whiskies called Sterling Reserve under which it will initially sell two variants –Sterling Reserve B7 in the semi-premium segment and B10 in the premium segment.
“The highway ban was one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry after demonetisation. But after the SC (clarification) a change has come about. A lot of stores will be able to sell liquor again,” said Roshini Sanah Jaiswal, promoter of Jagatjit Industries Ltd, which is targeting 15-20% sales growth this festive season.
In August, the apex court clarified that its ban on all sale of alcohol near state and national highways was not aimed at stretches that fell within city limits.