Liquor firms ride the digital wave; as it tries to fasten recovery


Experts believe that brands can make the most of online medium by curating exclusive digital campaigns which were otherwise worked upon during major events only

Ending the drought for what it may seem, several state governments including West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Delhi among others have allowed home delivery of liquor. This move also allows the state governments to fill in their reserves, which has been an ongoing struggle post the pandemic. To cash in on the opportunity, liquor firms have begun amplifying marketing efforts on digital. “The online delivery of liquor is still at a nascent stage and once people get a fairer understanding about the process with the setting up of a concrete policy, it is certain to add to the growth of the liquor industry and could even be a game changer in the long run. The online mode is expected to become a more preferable and time-saving option for consumers and more so for the women folk who would like to avoid visiting crowded shops,” Amar Sinha, chief operating officer, Radico Khaitan, told BrandWagon Online.

According to industry estimates, ad spends by alcohol-beverage companies stands close to Rs 650-750 crore. Due to restrictions on advertising, alcohol manufactures often take the route of surrogate advertising. Interestingly, in the last one year much of the ad dollars have moved to digital with spends increasing to about 25-28% in the current fiscal year as opposed to 18-20% in FY 2019-20. “From an advertising perspective, rules and guidelines would need to be looked at. Prima facie, owned platforms like websites, social platforms, e-commerce and delivery platforms like Swiggy, Zomato and other like-minded platforms will become an important part of the overall marketing mix,” Gopa Kumar, COO, Isobar India, said.

For the alco-bev industry, digital has allowed it to understand and learn emerging consumer trends, Prabhtej Singh Bhatia, CEO and co-founder, Simba Craft Beer, said, adding “Brands are utilising their digital assets through content marketing to engage with their consumer base on a real-time basis by sharing fun, engaging, informative and relevant content via live sessions, videos, pictures, and timely updates. The online platform, especially social media, has empowered all of us to stand together as one and battle the pandemic by sharing and spreading awareness about Covid-19 and amplifying resources and covid aid.” The company further expects that with a rise in in-home consumption, accelerated vaccination drive and the initiation of home delivery of alcohol, will help in the recovery of sales this year.

Moreover, with restrictions on direct advertising across mediums such as TV, print, among others, online routes such as social media have allowed brands to showcase products in an appealing and descriptive way. “As compared to 2019 where 30% of the advertising dollars were spent on digital platforms for October-December quarter, approximately 60% of the marketing budget in the corresponding quarter of 2020 was used up for digital marketing such as social media and OTT. In order to sustain brand loyalty and engagement with our consumers, we will be continuously looking at a significant share of our spends towards digital,” Sinha stated.

Experts believe that brands can make the most of online medium by curating exclusive digital campaigns which were otherwise worked upon during major events only. “Brand campaigns need to be strong because there is now an opportunity for brands to be able the complete the purchase cycle right then and there. They should continue to engage with customers and via surrogate brands do some meaningful conversations with customers to improve their awareness levels and build preference. Since paid marketing is not allowed on social media, it depends on how interesting their content is. If the content is interesting, they will get better reach organically,” Ambika Sharma, founder and managing director, Pulp Strategy noted.

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