The wave which started with the launch of Doolally nearly a decade back, in Pune circa 2009, has evolved into a movement providing a new direction to India’s beer culture. One which promises to bottle a bit of India in your beer, in some cases in a sustainable manner for a better earth.
India’s craft beer surge has resulted in the emergence of over 200 microbreweries with multiple outlets selling several variants using regional brewing styles and methods. With a rising number of Indian consumers gravitating towards beers made for them by boutique brands, the industry has been growing at sustained levels over the years. The last 5 years have particularly seen a recent uptake in the interest in this niche industry with brands such as Kati Patang (2018), Meduca (2018) and White Rhino (2016) beginning to enter the mainstream conversation and attracting the attention of venture capital. The market has seen a flurry of new brands attempting to move the Indian consumer from mass produced commercial lager to indigenous brands “Imagined in India”.
Tracing the evolving beer culture in India is a highly interesting activity. It is a relatively accurate representation of the maturing Indian consumer. Demand in the early 2000’s was anchored in frothy commercial lager – mostly serviced by Kingfisher and Haywards 5000 (with the likes of Singha thrown in from time to time). What governed the consumer decision then was the content of alcohol and the price tag. Today, consumers are drifting away from the mass-produced lager and are demanding artisanal products that are tailored for them. The reasoning of these consumers to make this shift are multiple and diverse. Be it the experimental consumer between the age of 20 and 45 craving a multisensory experience in their beer or the consumer chasing a premium and aspirational feel in their drink. The implication however remains the same – the market for artisanal indigenous beer brands is here. Mega and macro breweries entering the segment by launching and acquiring local brands is another clear indication of the market’s popularity.
What remains a question however is whether this market is here to stay, and if so, then in what capacity? This report seeks to answer whether this market is a bubble or indeed the start of India’s next phase in the industry.
Craft beer is a premium alternative to a beverage already treated as a relatively elite product in the subcontinent. There are approximately 200 million beer consumers in India and the lack of a ‘typical’ beer consumer poses a problem in the road of scalability in this market. Further, numerous craft brands are currently in the cash burn phase. The commercial viability of this market is also questionable at this point of time with brands facing a host of challenges including distribution roadblocks.
This report aims to analyze all the questions above and understand the implications on the consumer front including whether the Indian consumer will be left with plenty to choose from, or will the commercial lager prevail.