Decoding the new-age Indian consumer

Decoding the new-age Indian consumer

The new-age Indian consumer is one who approaches spirits with an insight-driven and value-based mindset. Away from the erstwhile consumption-focused era, this new age of drinking is more about an ‘experience over excess’ mindset,     where the consumer wants to drink better, not more.

As social media has democratised knowledge of availability and experiences, consumers are seeking more bite-sized, trivia-style information about their chosen niches and are demonstrating an interest towards experiences.

More consumers are showing interest in community events, workshops, tasting tables and degustation menus, where they can interact and engage with like-minded enthusiasts and connoisseurs.

India is soon to take over as one of the world’s largest at-home consumption markets, a unique driver for consumers to pay attention to their home bars and hosting experiences in individualistic spaces.

Younger generations, led by the Millennials and Gen-Z, are a revolving door of new-age consumption trends, as they incorporate new buying behaviour every month.

These categories of contemporary consumers will become the biggest buyers of luxury by far, representing 80% of global purchases – indicative of a rise in fine spirit consumption in the country.

Premiumisation as culture

With an overall shift in taste and lifestyle patterns, consumers are seeking premium experiences across areas of consumption – with spirits leading the score. While premiumisation was viewed as a passing trend in 2023, it will solidify as a behavioural tendency this year onwards.

Customers are increasingly seeking unique and premium products that offer distinctive taste, high-quality ingredients, and an artisanal edge with a sense of craftsmanship. This demand for aspirational products in the spirits landscape can be linked to the increasing maturity of Indian spirit consumers, who are a set of ‘evolved-curious’ drinkers.

The sale of premium liquor priced ?2,000 and above has risen by 48%, according to the Confederation of Indian Alcohol Beverage Companies. Global players are eyeing India as a gateway to premium spirit consumption, as demand increased by 12% in FY23 for premium and luxe offerings across spirit categories. 

Brands opting for a one-size-fits-all strategy are unlikely to make any mark in 2024. The way to reach the burgeoning Indian spirit community is by catering to specific niches and micro-segments (enthusiasts, curiosity-driven experimentalists, connoisseurs) with tailor-made strategies personalised for each. 

As consumers have an increased inkling over ‘experiential’ and value-driven experiences, brands must add tastings, tours, community initiatives and events to holistically engage the spirit community. Travel-led consumption is another trend for brands to capitalise on, thereby focusing on hyperlocal brews and cultural spirits.

With collectible culture taking over shelves, and limited editions and seasonal releases selling out within 24 hours, premium and ultra-premium offerings will be a great way to stand apart with a unique offering.

New categories

With a surge in interest towards agave spirits, India’s next stage of drinking will see a huge increase in the demand for not only Tequila and Mezcal, but also lesser-known agave variants such as Raicilla, Bacanora and Sotol.

With Indian-origin whiskeys winning global accolades and signature editions earning the status of collectables, private-label whiskeys and limited-edition launches are a huge driver of India’s rising whisky consumption, which overtook that of France.

As Indians move away from Old Monk, a projected resurgence in Indian craft rums and rum variants is on the cards for 2024.

Curiosity is the big driver of India’s next phase of alco-bev consumption: the import of wines and Saké will increase astronomically this year, alongside the rise in craft beer sales.

Food and drink pairings are taking a new turn, and the ‘chakna culture’ is having a gourmet spin, with talented mixologists and culinary pros experimenting with exclusive degustation menus, and bar and restaurant pop-ups to experiment with new styles

The rise in collaborative menus with ingredient-forward cocktails, spirit-centric components is a signature move by bars and mixologists who are actively experimenting with interesting cocktail combinations with coffee and spirit infusions.

Fine spirits are now the go-to consideration for luxe gifting options that can add a touch of personalisation and sophistication to any occasion. Consumers are no longer hoarding spirits for personal consumption, rather, they are keen to engage in gifting distinctive spirits with a focus on their heritage and pedigree story, rather than staying loyal to a particular brand.

With the duty-free availability of high-end Indian labels and international boutique spirits at airports, travel-based purchasing is returning to its former glory. According to Euromonitor International, India’s luxury market is expected to be one of the fastest growing in the world, with fine spirits contributing to a large segment of luxury consumption.