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ABD’s flagship Officer’s Choice Whisky has been rated as the largest selling whisky brand in the world by IWSR for the third consecutive year. The company’s premium whisky Officer’s Choice Blue has also recorded impressive sales of 8 million cases within four years of its launch. Ahmed Rahimtoola, Sr VP, Marketing, ABD delves on the factors that successfully connected these brands with consumers while talking to Shalini Kumar

How has the IMFL industry performed over the past few years? Is there any shift seen in the category?

Growth in the IMFL industry over the years has considerably slowed down. The three-year CAGR has been 3.5% only. The slowdown has been mainly in the regular and below segments, which have seen a saliency shift from 79% in 2010-11 to approx. 68% in 2015-16. The deluxe and above segments, on the other hand, have seen an increase in saliency from 21% in 2010-11 to 32% in 2015-16. This clearly indicates that there is a definite shift towards premiumization.

When it comes to category shift, not much has changed over the years. We continue to be a whisky consuming nation. The saliency of whisky as a category stands at 61% followed by brandy at 23%, rum at 13%, vodka at 2% and gin at 1%.

Officer’s Choice has been rated as the largest selling whisky brand by IWSR for the third consecutive year? Which have been the key success factors behind this splendid performance?

Officer’s Choice Whisky, our flagship brand, is the largest- selling whisky brand in the world and also the largest exported spirits brand from India. It is a market leader in 19 States with a national market share of 40%. In the last financial year, it reached a volume of 26 million cases with a growth of 11% against 11% growth in the regular whisky segment. Recently Impact magazine has valued the brand at 2.3 billion USD by retail value (seventh largest in the world). Besides, we were also rated as the second largest selling spirit brand in the world.

There are a lot of factors which have contributed to this unprecedented growth of the brand over the last few years. First, the brand is positioned on a much differentiated platform of righteousness which resonates very  well   with   our   consumers   while breaking away from category codes of success, achievement, masculinity, fun and friendship.

The second aspect is the consistent and superior blend with a strong heritage of more than 28 years which gives it an unequivocal edge over competitors. Finally, the engagement the brand creates with the consumers at an on-ground level through local initiatives and strategic visibility makes it the most talked about brand in the alcobev space.

 

Officer’s Choice Blue has made its mark in a relatively short period of time and continues to grow from strength to strength. What has led to its growth? Officer’s Choice Blue, a premium variant of Officer’s Choice, was launched nationally in 2012 in the deluxe whisky segment. With sales of 8 million cases within 4 years of its launch, Officer’s Choice (OC) Blue is one of the most successful launches in the Indian alcobev industry.

Many things seemed to have worked for OC Blue. A magnetic blend,     immaculate     packaging and strong endorsement of the mother   brand   have   all   played a role in ensuring its success. Besides, a slew of innovative marketing initiatives over the years has resulted in creating high aspirational appeal and emotional equity with consumers.

 

Officer’s Choice Blue has recently launched a new TV campaign. Can you tell us a little about it?

This has been quite an interesting campaign. The challenge was to present righteousness in a manner which is not preachy or confrontational. We decided to take an approach that applauds people for their efforts to do the right thing and be good Samaritans. The four TVCs narrate testing situations, in slices of everyday life, and depict actions that contribute in making the world a better and caring place. They convey the ‘good’ in actions of giving way to an ambulance over a VIP vehicle, respecting the lowest ranks in the office, concern to assuage the apprehension of a woman travelling alone, and bringing help to people in need.

The narratives create a strong people connect with positive actions that are spontaneous and relatable, embedded in the belief and keeping faith in doing ‘good’. The TVCs end with the tagline ‘Salute toh Banta Hai’, which acknowledges the contribution of these everyday heroes.

The campaign within 15 days of its release on our Facebook page has garnered over 1.8 million views.

Recently the Officer’s Choice franchise went through a makeover. What was the objective? What has been the response?

In keeping with our intent to remain continuously relevant to our consumers, we unveiled new packaging designs for Officer’s Choice Whisky and Officer’s Choice Blue. C-Drinks, an internationally-renowned packaging design agency, was roped in to bring their creative skills and experience to the project. The new designs give the brands a contemporary look while remaining true to their core identifiers. The designs also work to harmonize brand identity, improve aesthetics, appeal and visibility. Officer’s Choice Whisky has a rich white, red and gold look while Officer’s Choice Blue presents a clean and minimal design with the use of the core colours of blue and gold. The response has been very encouraging from the trade and consumers alike

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