Raahil Chopra
Oct 14, 2020

Jack Daniel's looks to 'make it count' in the world's largest whisky consumption country

Vineet Agrawal, marketing and commercial director, India area, Brown-Forman, explains how the global campaign is being adapted and challenges with the alcohol industry in India

Vineet Agrawal
Vineet Agrawal
Jack Daniel’s recently announced the launch of its global campaign ‘make it count’ which has been rolled out in more than 100 markets including India.
We caught up with Vineet Agrawal, marketing and commercial director, India Area, Brown-Forman to learn more about how this campaign will be running in the Indian market and how the group is looking to grow in India.

How will you be adapting the ‘make it count’ campaign in India?
From an India perspective, point-of-sale is an important channel for us, so we’ll be integrating the campaign there. For now, it’s running on our social channels and we are also planning digital and social integrations. 
We also realise that gifting is an important occasion and we’re launching personalised gift packs by integrating the global campaign. 
In India - would Jack Daniel's be the flagship brand for Brown-Forman? Which other brands are part of the portfolio in India?
Yes, Jack Daniel’s is the flagship. In terms of the brands present, we have Woodford Reserve which is a bourbon. In the vodka category we have Finlandia while in the tequila category we have a brand el Jimador. 
Within Jack Daniel’s too we have variants such Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire and more. So the portfolio is wide spread. 
How big a market is India for Jack Daniel's? In terms of sales where would you rank India among markets globally?
I can’t share the exact size, but India is a top emerging market for Brown-Forman globally. Our portfolio consists of predominantly whisky brands and India is the largest whisky consuming country globally, so it can't be ignored.
You've been in alcohol marketing space for more than 10 years now. How has this space evolved?
We have seen consumers getting more and more curious about the variety of spirits that are available. Premiumisation has taken place too. Indian consumers are global digital citizens. This combined with the travel that they used to intake pre-covid has opened the experiment lid. Now, consumers want to experience more premium brands. 
We have also seen the advent of the cocktail culture. And so, we at Brown-Forman have programs that target it with cocktail championships. India has phenomenal talent with regards to the folks working behind the bar. The craft cocktail bars have led to experimentation too. Consumers have lapped it up too so bars are opening and all of this have been key trends over the past few years.
If you look at a category like American Whiskey - the category is growing at a CAGR of 20% yearly and JD is topping the list. There's an openness to experience.
Advertising alcohol in India is a major challenge. We have seen the market use brand extensions like music CDs and the likes to enable it. What is Brown-Forman doing?
We respect the law of the land and plan accordingly. Yes, there are certain restrictions and we work within those restrictions. In terms of reaching out to our consumers, we use digital, on-premise and the retail stores.
Last month we spoke with Alexander Lambrecht of AB InBev and he said while the last six months were challenging as a marketer in the space, it accelerated certain trends like e-commerce, in-house consumption and more. What are the trends you have seen in the Indian market since lockdown?
Absolutely, these times are challenging for everybody and with social distancing increasing, in-house consumptions has definitely seen a rise. Some states have allowed home delivery and online ordering to stop gatherings at liquor shops. It's (e-commerce) still at a nascent stage but it's the step in the right direction. It’s following the consumer behaviour across as that’s where the consumer is spending time.
At Brown-Forman, we saw this trend and invested in digital and the retail channel. That's more relevant during these times.
We came up with a few initiatives too during the lockdown. We had a virtual reality experience for our JD distillery where consumers got a virutal experience of visiting it. We saw some pretty good engagement here for that show.
To support our friends behind the bar, we launched a virtual tip jar, a crowd funding initiative where we tied up with a not-for-profit organisation that works for the bartenders. Consumers were asked if they wanted to do drop a tip for bartenders while they were consuming alcohol and that was spread to bartenders of the organisation.
We ran a campaign around social distancing at stores, which encouraged people who were visiting the store too to socially distant.
We've seen JD sell premixes globally but not in the Indian market. Is that under consideration for the Indian market?
It's not available in India. There are conversations about how to grow the business in India, but with the high taxes in India, launching the premix is something that's not really easy.
There's also a perception that Indians prefer single malts in the premium category. JD borders a Tennessee Whiskey/Bourbon. Does that serve as a disadvantage?
Like I mentioned earlier, consumers in India have definitely started looking out for different categories in India. Within single malts also there's versatility available. Right now, there's a very clear demand and curiosity for brands that have a heritage. Our super premium portfolio is definitely something Indian consumers have an appetite for.
One example is that we allow customisation for JD Single Barrel. If a consumer buys a barrel they can have customisation. So, we saw a wedding in India have a customised packaging. They also get to customise the liquid a little bit. So, there is definitely a market for us.
Campaign India

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