The dice seems loaded against beer

New Update

The Indian consumers are experimenting with the new styles of beer like wheat, Stout and IPA but it is still a very niche market in India. India’s beer market is an evolving market but with the Indian palate not liking bitter beers as yet, the options to innovate in this market are limited. The India’s market is still mainly dominated by strong lagers, says Prem Dewan. Elaborating on beer brands within his ambit, he says besides having Godfather (which is a lager) and Kotsberg (a Pilsner – a type of pale lager), his company has recently launched wheat beer in the market by the name of Six Fields.


Trend and Lacuna

When asked as to what is his take on beer lovers in India moving away from classical lager, the MD observes that “Besides lager, wheat beer is the new favourite.” Devan says wheat beer has been well received in the Indian market. When quizzed about how willing is India’s beer market to experiment with new flavours and styles, he says the India’s beer market is yet to take off as per capita consumption figures of beer are still very low in the country. “Moreover, introducing a new beer brand in India is fairly expensive with each state having a different set of rules about label registration & brand registration. For example, in Delhi, new brand registration fee is Rs.15 lakh. If one wants to launch flavoured beer, each flavour would be considered a separate brand, which means for each flavour there would be a fee running into a whopping Rs. 15 lakh,” Dewan states.

Enduring Growth

Talking about his company’s enduring popularity, he affirms: “For a company to stay relevant for over a period of 55 years, it is only possible if the company is futuristic and is constantly evolving. Our focus on quality is wellknown. Also, product innovation is the key.” Besides launching different kinds of beers, the company is emphasising on SKUs as well. To cater to the needs of beer lovers, they have launched a draught beer SKU-5L keg. “For the first time in India, one can have draught beer in the comfort of your home. We have 5L draught beer keg available for both Kotsberg (Pilsner) & Six Fields (Wheat Beer),” he avers.

Imported Beer Brands

Talking about new high-end imported beer brands, he says the Indian market is witnessing new beer brands from different parts of the world which are sold at much higher MRPs than the usual imported beers. When asked as to which cities have consumers of such brands, he explains, “The volumes are low due to the fact that pricing and the marketing costs involved are huge. It is still a niche market, concentrated mainly in tier-I cities, and in certain pockets of tier-II cities of the country.”

Market Trends

When asked about his forecast of market trends and market growth in the next five years, he categorically  states that market trends for beers depend on a lot of factors. “India’s beer industry is viewed more as a revenue generator than a true beverage industry. Beer rates at retail and bar are very high in our country, and in some states even the liquor contractors set the beer selling prices at a very high level in order to restrict sales of beer and compel the consumers to switch to liquor,” Dewan observes. No wonder then, he says, it is quite normal to see some states in India increasing beer levies to such an extent that the resulting high retail prices lead to negative sales of beer. “To determine the market trend for beers in the country, be it in the regular, premium or the niche category, the state excise policies will play a major role,” he conveys.