How an Indian liquor maker is trying to make brandy cool

People don’t drink brandy; they drink Mansion House, says Ahmed Rahimtoola of Tilaknagar Industries. Mansion House sold 7.6 million cases and grew 38 percent last financial year over the previous year, signalling more takers for brandy.

By  Indrani BoseAug 1, 2023 4:30 PM
How an Indian liquor maker is trying to make brandy cool
Traditionally, the alco-bev category talks about success, achievement, bonding and fun; however, through the campaign ‘A Warm Welcome’ the brand's goal has been to position Mansion House as more than just an alco-beverage brand by celebrating genuine connections, inclusivity and compassion.

The brandy category has battled unfavourable perceptions. People perceive it to be an old man’s drink or a drink that is only good to have if one is facing health issues. Or it’s a drink that is consumed mainly in winter. Needless to say, these perceptions are inhibiting the overall growth of the Brandy category.

Tilaknagar industries, which caters to the alco-bev industry, is a Brandy-first company. Mansion House, its mother brand, sold 7.6 million cases last financial year, recording growth of 38% over the previous year. As per the Millionaires Club report of 2023 released by Drinks International, Mansion House Brandy has been rated as the second-largest selling brandy in the world and also the second-fastest growing spirits brand in the world.

With 12 percent market share in the overall Brandy category, Tilaknagar Industries’ flagship brand Mansion House aimed to create a campaign with a distinctive, powerful narrative around the category to help the company expand the entire category.

Traditionally, the alco-bev category talks about success, achievement, bonding and fun; however, through the campaign ‘A Warm Welcome’ the brand's goal has been to position Mansion House as more than just an alco-beverage brand by celebrating genuine connections, inclusivity and compassion.

Genesis and vision of the campaign

The 90-second digital video (DVC) challenges conventional stereotypes and transports viewers through uplifting montages, weaving a vibrant tapestry of human experiences. A woman army officer reuniting with her family in the Northeast; a chance meeting between a stranded musician and a compassionate couple; and a troubled young man being comforted by an elderly gentleman.

The campaign, which advocates for equal and diverse representation in society, is an integration of product truth along with human insight of warmth and genuine connections.

"Even with COVID receding, people are consuming a lot of alcohol at home. So, the traditional taboo about drinking at home is slowly disappearing," Ahmed Rahimtoola, chief marketing officer, Tilaknagar Industries

Ahmed Rahimtoola, chief marketing officer, Tilaknagar Industries, shares his insights about the campaign and says that the critical objective of the brand is to get more millennials as consumers. Considering the target audience, the campaign was created with a strong social message, and the entire treatment has been about warm tones, captivating visuals, heartwarming narratives and relatable scenarios to create that strong emotional bond with consumers.

StoryBoats, the brand’s creative and brand partner, came on board for the campaign. “I have spent countless hours with Antony, the CEO of StoryBoats, delving into the immense potential of creating a category code. We recognised the significance of capturing the authentic essence of warm welcomes, going beyond mere advertising to craft a narrative that truly reflects our organisational beliefs,” recalls Rahimtoola. “This partnership has been the driving force behind our quest to define the very code of the category, embracing inclusivity and genuine human connections at its core,” he added.

When Rahimtoola had just joined TilakNagar Industries and asked retailers and distribution partners why people drank Brandy, he was told that people don’t drink Brandy, they drink Mansion House.

90 percent of the brand’s sales come from South India. Mansion House’s largest markets are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Karnataka, in that order. Its market share in this price point is almost 80 percent. Therefore, it is important for Mansion House as a brand to capture a share from other categories, starting from a big base of consumers drinking brandy at a price point below Mansion House, to persuading whiskey connoisseurs to make the shift to brandy.

Discerning the alcohol-beverage category

Rahimtoola highlights premiumisation as one of the key trends of the alcohol-beverage category, saying “Consumers today are drinking better, as their lifestyle is improving. Urbanisation and rising disposable incomes are clearly leading to premiumisation.”

This trend continues today. Even with COVID receding, people are consuming a lot of alcohol at home. So, the traditional taboo about drinking at home is slowly disappearing. Thirdly, the time frame for brand renovations is getting shorter. Now, every three years, there are renovations in the brand in the form of packaging, blend, and line extensions.

"A lot of brands and marketers are focusing on mass media; 75 percent of ad spends still go towards cricket and hence the importance of that spot only gets stronger," Ahmed Rahimtoola, chief marketing officer, Tilaknagar Industries

Addressing the evolving retail landscape as another important trend, Rahimtoola says, “If you walk into a retail store it is very different from what you saw ten years back. You see these walk-in formats, browsable stores where consumer experience is very critical. And one also gets to see a lot more women. I see a lot of impactful visual merchandising, which is drawing consumer attention. Also, a lot of brands and marketers are focusing on mass media; 75 percent of ad spends still go towards cricket and hence the importance of that spot only gets stronger.”

Another important trend is the coming of age of Indian malts. “A lot of Indian companies are launching single malts with impeccable quality, impeccable blend and an impeccable story to support its claim as well, ” says Rahimtoola. He also pointed at another trend of non-alcoholic and low alcohol brands coming to the forefront and targeting Gen Z, hoping that they will move to the mainline.

Growth and expansion

“The brand has been dormant, and in spite of that, has been gaining volume year on year on year. With the kind of narrative that we've created, we hope to influence lot of young adults to buy from our brand,” says Rahimtoola.

Even though the brand is primarily a South focused market, over the last year, Mansion House has been eyeing the East quite aggressively. Mansion House is the second-largest brand in Sikkim and is witnessing decent growth in Odisha and West Bengal. “We've just started work in Assam as well. After the South, we're looking at trying to penetrate the East, but that will take some time as a category,” says Rahimtoola.

Mansion House has recently launched Flandy (flavoured brandy). Through Flandy which is available in flavours like Orange, Peach and Cherry, the brand is hoping to see a shift from whisky and white spirits to brandy and thus is targeting a younger demographic that will also help to increase the consumer base for brandy.

Rahimtoola also hints at a few line extensions to expand the category. “We are looking at a premium line extension as well, at a 70-80 percent premium, to get consumers who probably today will be trading up from Mansion House as they grow in status and career.”

First Published on Aug 1, 2023 11:45 AM

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