We want to be a genuine national player: Allied Blenders & Distilleries
While most significant players in the industry have started focusing on premiumisation, Allied Blenders & Distilleries (ABD) believes that high-volume mass-premium brands like its Officer’s Choice whisky have carved out a niche for themselves in the industry. ABD’s Executive Deputy Chairman, Shekhar Ramamurthy, who previously headed United Breweries, shares his insight into ABD’s growth plans.
Today, Officer’s Choice is not just a whisky brand but also a rum and brandy brand. So, will ABD reposition it so that there is a clear distinction among the brands?
We discontinued the rum variant because we felt the category is very competitive and was not getting the responses we sought. Brandy is there primarily because of the Kerala market. So, we would instead put our energies behind the whisky brand. We have another rum brand called Jolly Roger which we are trying to revive. As far as repositioning goes, we want to make the brand seem more premium without making it more expensive.
How does that work?
We want it to be value affordable, not cheap, but affordable premium. That is why we call it mass premium. It is a premium product but mass in terms of access and affordability. The price will remain the same. We sell around 20-25 million cases per annum. It is more significant than most brands. So, we have Sterling for the affluent and Officer’s Choice for the mass premium.
What happens to the rest of the portfolio?
Sterling Reserve is one of the fastest-growing brands, with a lot of focus. It competes with brands like Royal Stag and Royal Challenge. We will soon unveil a new campaign for the brand. We are putting the focus on the portfolio. We expect the industry to grow in single digits, and we see ourselves growing much ahead.
While most major players have started focusing on premiumisation and putting more capital, ABD is banking on mass premium brands. How will it play out for you?
When discussing premiumisation in India, you must see the whole spectrum, not a few bottles or pieces of the super-premium category. ABD’s portfolio of Officer’s Choice is our leading brand that operates at the entry level of the aspiring classes. But today, the fashionable thing is to talk about premiumisation. Each company has to focus on one essential brand. Operating in the high-volume mass premium category is not easy. One has to be highly efficient in managing such a brand. We make decisions here and not from London or anywhere else. Hence, we are close to the market and can take quick decisions, which helps us sustain and grow our market.