Wine making in India is still mostly driven more by passion, rather than profits. However, domestic manufacturers are now investing in bringing quality grapes, world class expertise and international standard packaging.
As retailers we see a higher acceptance for more expensive Indian wines. People today want to drink less, but drink better. They often spend more time studying their choice of drinks, looking for right value between quality and price.
When I started in the trade 8 years ago, the average consumer used to ask for either a red or a white wine – absent were varietal names and brand salience. Price was normally considered a barometer of quality because store owners passed on expensive wines as higher quality products.
Today India produces some really high-quality wines and domestic companies are investing heavily in educating trade partners about their products. Indian wines do have an advantage over imported wines because of the tax structure and market protection.
But registration costs, restrictions on distribution, marketing costs, special fees, etc. makes the prospect of selling domestic wines in India a complex, costly and frustrating endeavour.
Brand discovery is a challenge, given the fact that traditional retail shops (Thekas) are not designed to offer consumers any choice. Modern retail outlets are fixing this problem to an extent.
But more opportunity for brand interaction needs to be created between the consumers and the products at the store. A few simple things that can be done are:
- help stores create product brochures with tasting notes and suggested pairings;
- hire and train staff to be more knowledgeable and approachable;
- match season and consumer preferences.
In summer, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé should be stacked so that consumers have easy access to their go-to pool wines. Domestic sparklers are naturals for holidays, and red wines and Port do well in winters.
I believe investing in educating the retail ecosystem holds the key for wine companies who are looking to stand out in the growing crowd. Smarter packaging is really changing how wines are being sold across the world.
People are also looking for content choices and ease of consumption. Wines-in-cans from Sula and Fratelli; pint packing of meads from Moonshine Meads; and fruit wines from Fruzzante are all helping democratise wines for the next generation.
– Vishal Deorah, MD, The Whiskey Company, Assam