Saumya Tewari

Bacardi: Breezer's native touch

Bacardi goes desi and offers Nimbu Paani and Aam Panna flavoured Breezers to its patrons in India.

The when-in-Rome adage has helped many global brands flourish in India. Examples of brands such as KFC, Dominos, McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts that have tweaked their menus to the delight of their Indian consumers are plenty. Why, then, should liquor brands let a good thing pass by?

Bacardi: Breezer's native touch
Bacardi: Breezer's native touch
Bacardi: Breezer's native touch
Bacardi, the spirits giant, has taken its first step onto the 'desi route' and launched two new flavours - nimbu paani and aam panna - for its low-alcohol ready-to-drink (RTD) brand, Breezer.

While aam panna is a spiced-up mix with the flavour of raw mangoes, nimbu paani brings a sweet and salty flavour to Breezer lovers. These new flavours mark a departure from the brand's existing international range that includes cranberry, blackberry crush, orange, Jamaican passion, lime, island pineapple and green apple. With this launch, Bacardi becomes the first global beverage company to incorporate Indian flavours in its offerings. The India unit of Bacardi has developed the two flavours.

Mix and match

Available in Haryana, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Goa and Karnataka, the new arrivals will be available in eight more locations in the coming months. They are priced in the range of Rs 70-100, which is similar to the existing flavours available in market.

Dubbing the Indian consumer as 'confident' and 'experimental', Manish Seth, director of sales & marketing, Bacardi India says that there was a fair amount of consumer research that went before the launch of, what he calls, an 'Indimix'. All reports, he says, showed that consumers wanted to try Breezer in the flavours they were familiar with. "These flavours topped the list of the pan-India level research and we decided to target it," Seth notes.

The decision to zero on these two flavours wasn't a tough one as both 'nimbu paani' and 'aam panna' have mass appeal. Seth asserts that there is a universal acceptance of both these flavours as the 'ultimate thirst quenchers' in the country. "Nimbu paani and aam panna can be spotted across almost every street of each Indian city," he notes adding that the company will roll out more Indian flavours in due course of time.

Will they sip?

Breezer, as a category, is primarily targeted at young consumers. The core consumer group is of legal drinking age plus five years. However, Seth tells us that their consumer research shows that much of Breezer's consumption is increasingly coming from people out of the core TG.

Breezer has often been dubbed as a 'preferred drink' for women, owing to its low-alcohol percentage. Seth, however, disagrees, "Breezer satisfies the universal need for having a low-alcoholic beverage, which is fresh, sweet and smooth on the palette. Both men and women consume the drink and it is certainly not a 'women's only' drink."

The company is planning to carefully track how these flavours perform in the domestic market before thinking of taking them global. Breezer enjoys a fair degree of penetration and consumption in metros, mini metros and Tier II cities. Metros have always been at the forefront of changing consumer habits. "So, we're expecting that this will begin as a spark in the metros and will penetrate into the smaller, semi-urban cities," says Seth.

In terms of marketing and advertising the new launch, the company will be using a mix of digital and experiential. Breezer, as a category, has been closely connected with the consumers via the digital space. The company has regularly created activities on the online medium to keep consumer participation high.

Mixing well

Bacardi has connected well with its target audience. The brand has been the title sponsor of the three-day long music festival, NH7 Weekender (organised in Pune, Bangalore and New Delhi), The Dewarists (a musical TV series on MTV India), Breezer Boombox (a music maker app) and Breezer Catch the Flavour game. The company does a lot of experiential activities during festivals like Holi.

This year, it has tied up with youth music channel 'MTV' for its dating based reality show series, 'Splitsvilla'. "We do lot of innovations in the digital space which touch our consumers' life as well. The consumer today is very evolved and smart. We cannot be preachy in our communications, it has to be a involved conversation," Seth observes.

As the Indian consumer becomes more self-confident and particular about his/her choices, Seth confesses that it is becomes increasingly challenging, as a brand, to hold their attention. "The Indian consumer is leapfrogging on the technology path much faster than any other part of the world. In terms of marketing and advertising, experiential is becoming big with each passing day. There has to be a conversation. Therefore, NH7 Weekender and Splitsvilla fall in our scheme of things."

Fast track

The RTD category has bridged the gap between consumption of soft drinks and hard spirit. Usually, the alcohol content in these drinks is 4-8 per cent. The low-alcohol RTD market size in India is roughly around 2.5 million cases. Ever since its launch in the early 2000s, Bacardi Breezer has dominated the category with its market share hovering at 97 per cent as per various media reports.

Competition to Bacardi came - and went. In 2004, for instance, United Breweries launched Shotz and Cruiser, but the response was tepid and both had to be withdrawn. Balrampur Chini's Xotica and Shaw Wallace's Veba met with the same fate. Global Wines & Spirits (GWS) and Beam India launched RTD variants across the rum, vodka and Scotch whisky categories. Beam India launched its first scotch-based 'Teachers & Soda' and 'Teachers & Cola' and lemony vodka-based Sniffer but none of these came close to Bacardi Breezer.

Interestingly, the Gurgaon-based startup, Hector Beverages, is also making ripples with its brand Paperboat's Indi range of flavours (non-alcoholic) in the soft drink category. Some of its flavours include aam panna, aam pas, jal jeera, gol gappe, jamun and kala khatta.

Bacardi, the largest privately held spirits company, launched in India in 1998. Its portfolio comprises more than 200 brands and labels, including Bacardi rum, Grey Goose Vodka, Dewar's Blended Scotch whisky, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Martini Vermouth and sparkling wines and Eristoff Vodka. Founded 152 years ago in Santiago de Cuba, the family-owned Bacardi now employs nearly 6,000 people, manufactures its brands at 27 facilities in 16 markets on four continents and sells in more than 150 countries.