Addressing the elephant in the room – India is a dark market where alcohol brands have had to hide behind surrogates such as music, waters, and sodas for years in order to reach out to the audience. However, the tide is slowly changing.
Gone are the days where alcohol is associated with dingy-looking liquor stores adorned by dusty bottles or with men in ganjees seeking desi daaru and sale through store shutter windows late into the nights.
Today, as the taboo around alcohol starts to wear off, in new-age urban India the alcohol industry is also starting to shift dramatically at a fast pace. Drinking culture is becoming normalised and in fact flourishing; giving rise to brands innovating, finding newer ways to market themselves and actively engaging with their audiences.
Over the years, we have worked with a number of brands in this industry, to help them address various problems their brands have faced. From repositioning and branding exercises to marketing and communication, being one of the top integrated design and communication consultancies in the country, Vyas Giannetti Creative (VGC) has been able to help these brands across the board.
There are a number of emerging trends in design and communication for the alcobev industry and we’d like to demonstrate some of these through two of our projects -
1. Foster’s, one of the world’s leading beer brands, had trouble connecting with their audience when they launched in India. VGC helped position them for the local context and rolled out a holistic communication strategy, right from brand activation to product advertisements and much more.
2. TJ’s BrewWorks is a brand with a national ambition that opened its first microbrewery in Pune. With microbreweries being a relatively new concept in India, we needed to find a way to educate the audience about the concept of homebrewed beers to differentiate it from the standard beer. To do so, we strategically branded the company, created an environment and various elements within it that showcased the different types of beer on offer, developed communication and a whole lot more.
Now, let’s take a look at some of these trends we spoke about earlier.
The Chillheads - depicting different ways to chill
When it comes to beer, most beer drinkers prefer a nice, cold one. Warm beer is despised by beer aficionados, the world over. But, how does one tell if your beer is cold enough to drink. 10 minutes in the refrigerator? 20 perhaps? There’s isn’t really a science or guide to getting this bit right.
To fix this, VGC had designed thermo-sensitive packaging a beer brand. The packaging would reveal a hidden element (like a mountain or the degree symbol, as depicted in the visual) when at or under the preferred temperature for consumption (anywhere between 4 to 7 degrees Celsius for a typical lager) and this element would disappear, when it was warm. This way, even before picking up a bottle or pulling it out of your fridge, you’d know that your beer was cold and ready to consume.
Today’s consumer prefers experiences over products (oh, that typical millennial mindset!). They are interested in engaging with their environment rather than just sitting around and having a drink. They like to get into the thick of things. So, when we set out to design the brewery, we wanted to create an experience that was definitely out of the ordinary, by making the whole place conversational and engaging the audience across all touch points.
Beer Mood Swatch
Revolving Beer Menu – For those that can’t make up their mind
Conversational Table Mats
Our intent was to establish the brewery as a place that not only brewed beer but also brewed conversations, art, music, news and much more. So, from interactive table mats and coasters, where consumers could fill in answers to certain questions and win a ‘six-pack’ to a blackboard where people could draw or write about what was brewing in their lives, the whole space was designed to interact with the consumer. We even created a beer mood swatch so that consumers could pick a beer based on their mood. Even the menu was playful and interactive. All of this really helped bring alive the place and made it the preferred destination to get a brew.
The beer lounge model at an airport
The beer lounge adapted for a pub
We were also tasked with creating immersive beer lounges, which were aligned with the parent brand’s positioning; these would offer a customer maximum control over the brand experience while delighting their five senses and also help in driving in traffic. The beer lounges were designed to have chill pits, a bar area and a lounge area for people to relax and move around in. Created for people to actually chill in while getting some of their favourite beer, this model could also be replicated in public spaces and pubs all across the country, from airports to malls and more.
Engaging the audience:
As the mindset of the audience shifts and brands become more inclusive towards them (especially women, who make up a large share of their customer base), it is becoming increasingly important for alcohol brands to actively engage with their diverse target group across various touch points.
A universally simple way to do this is to use elements of humour in your communication. This can be across mainline communication, or in our (India’s case) across customer experience points.
Fun ‘O Clocks
Standees, Banners and Collaterals to bring alive the brand’s positioning
Funny quips under bottle caps
Cheeky lines, punchy captions and engaging visuals are the norm. It helps make the brand more relatable and inclusive. Also, adding an element of fun, helps the brand stay buzzy and entertaining for the end consumer. From pubs to breweries and from experience design to ATL (restricted) communication we have used elements of fun across various places, to playfully engage & captivate our audience.
Earlier, alcohol brands used to settle for being passive sponsors with their logos strewn all over a baseball field or cricket stadium. Today, a lot of brands are developing properties of their own, engaging with new audiences and chartering new paths for customer engagement. Associating alcohol with music however, is a no-brainer.
Invites and Communication for the stand-up event with Vir Das
Coasters with different messages that you could share with a friend or pass to a stranger to begin a conversation with
For one of our clients, we helped curate and create a unique (at the time) platform to associate the brand with – stand-up comedy. Back when stand-up comedy was at its nascent stage in India, we celebrated comedy through LOL evenings – a series of shows anchored by Vir Das, in pubs and bars across the country. This helped us establish the brand as an innovator that was doing something different.
Bringing the brand alive online:
The internet and social media are the perfect place to bring your brand alive. Especially in India, where brands are restricted in terms of mainline communication, the online channels have fewer restrictions, allowing brands to engage directly with their audiences.
Giving people the opportunity to share a talk about their favourite brew
A whole lot of merchandise and gear that could be won or purchased
The Result – A huge number of fans in an extremely short span of time
For clients in the restricted space, the key is to make the communication engaging, impactful and fun. In fact, we did this at a time where social media marketing was still relatively new to India. From gifting & promoting merchandise to badges, exclusive content, contests and other engagements, the campaigns we created and executed, helped boost engagement and awareness of these brands.
As audiences become younger and as the media by which we engage with them becomes even more diverse, it is important for brands in the alcobev industry to find newer, innovative ways to engage with them.
From using cutting-edge technology, to crafting immersive experiences and engaging with talented creative agencies, brands are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the competition.
So, how can you increase your brand’s edge?
Well, watch this space or log on to our website – for help with your brand or to just watch out for more emerging trends and techniques to tackle the ever-evolving alcohol market.
Article as featured in Ambrosia India (The Magazine for the Alcobev Industry)
Article as featured in Ambrosia India (The Magazine for the Alcobev Industry)