Creating & curating engaging digital content key to drive recall for our brands: Amar Sinha

Radico Khaitan is one of the oldest and the largest manufacturers of Indian Made Foreign Liquor. With over 75 years of experience in spirits making, Radico Khaitan has evolved from just being a distiller of spirits for others to a leading IMFL company with a highly reputed brand portfolio. Driven by the vision of the promoters, Radico Khaitan started its own brands in 1998 with the launch of 8 PM whisky.

Radico Khaitan is one of the few companies in India to have developed its entire brand portfolio organically. The company’s brand portfolio includes After Dark Whisky, Contessa Rum, Magic Moments Vodka, Morpheus Brandy, Old Admiral Brandy and 8 PM Whisky. The company has been constantly innovating and has got a strong R&D and research team which understands the needs and requirements of both the current and the next generation audience.

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The challenges faced by the company during the lockdown were many and the business was impacted and there was a temporary halt of the operations. While the demand for the products was there, the COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult for the company to reach out to the end consumer. However, with their robust distribution network, it did not take much time to bounce back and reach out to their consumers once the restrictions imposed were relaxed.

In conversation with Adgully, Amar Sinha, Chief Operating Officer, Radico Khaitan Ltd, speaks about the challenges that the company faced during the lockdown, and also shares the future plans and growth strategy for the company.

Every industry has been disrupted for the last one year. How has Radico Khaitan managed to navigate during these tough times? What are some of the challenges the liquor industry faced?

Due to the nationwide lockdown, our business was impacted initially and there was even a minor halt of operations for a short period of time. Although the demand for the products continued, restrictions made it difficult for people to have access to them. However, with our robust distribution network, it did not take us time to bounce back and reach our consumers.

The industry faced multiple challenges, including connecting with the consumers and production deficit. But the brighter side is, this also gave birth to a host of new trends and innovations. The liquor e-commerce toddled, the focus to promote the brands shifted to digital to name a few. As restrictions lifted and normalcy resumed, our month-on-month volumes indicated a positive trend and we are confident of a continued improvement in our numbers as well as overall industry performance.

Reaching the product to the last mile has been a challenge in these times. How did you manage your supply chain and distribution? Did you leverage E-commerce to push your products?

With restaurants and liquor outlets being shut, the industry faced a challenge with getting the product to the consumers. As one of the largest manufacturers of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in the country, we have a strong and robust supply chain in place that helped us navigate the challenges of the pandemic. The reopening of liquor outlets, post relaxation of rules, brought huge relief in terms of revenue generation.

Last mile connectivity was definitely a challenge, caused by the restrictions that were put in place. We found that alcohol e-commerce was an effective way to comply with physical distancing norms and reduce the chances of virus transmission significantly. However, e-commerce in the liquor sector is still in a nascent stage, where we are all collectively learning. While it might take some time for alcohol e-commerce to show effective results, it is expected to become a more preferable and time saving option for consumers in the times to come.

The liquor business works by closely working with your dealer networks. During the pandemic how did you manage to stay connected with your business partners and ensure seamless sales happening?

Being in the business for over 7 decades gives us an edge over our contemporaries from the distribution standpoint. While the movement of stock from distillery to the dealers was hampered due to the clampdown, our production was taking place uninterruptedly. The effort resulted in ample stock availability in an instant to our dealers/ retailers the moment restriction was eased. We ensured the availability of stock for them at every point.

You constantly keep innovating on the product front. Are you planning any new product launches?

Product innovation has always been a priority for us, especially over this past decade where we have launched 12 new brands, 11 of which are in the premium category.

We plan to launch three new brands in the P&A (prestige and above) category in the next year which are two premium whiskeys as well as one high-end white spirit brand. Apart from the new launches, the company is scaling up existing brands like Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin, 1965 SOV Rum, Morpheus Brandy, and 8 PM Premium Black Whisky. We have also extended the Verve premium vodka portfolio with addition of two new flavours-Lemon Lush and Cranberry Tease.

What was your engagement strategy with your consumers to keep all your brands top-of-mind?

The amount of time spent online by people of all age groups across the globe increased manifold while at home post lockdown. We realised that creating and curating engaging digital content in various forms would be the key to drive recall for our brands.

Right from the start of the lockdown, Radico Khaitan remained connected to its customers by constantly connecting with them to help them overcome lockdown blues. From organising online music concerts to creating awareness on COVID-19 and announcing contests on social media, we left no stone unturned to keep their customers’ spirit high.

Magic Moments Music Studio partnered with DJ Aqeel in April 2020 for an online musical concert, which received an overwhelming response. One of the major attractions during the show was the one-of-its-kind special VFX effect set. It was done to give the fans a club-like experience while enjoying from the comfort of their homes. The show received unprecedented traction with a reach of almost 1 million consumers.

It also associated with Sunburn Home Festival: Chapter 1 for India’s first biggest virtual music festival. The weekend musical extravaganza included special effects showcasing the live experience of a concert and saw a record global reach of 5 million fans.

Magic Moments Music Studio has partnered with versatile musician Knox Artiste to launch 4 peppy numbers across multiple genres online. The Dubai-based music producer and rap artist spread magic virtually by releasing the first song ‘Burj Khalifa’ on his official social media pages on the World Music Day. The song was also released by the brand on its official Instagram handle (@magicmomentsvodka) , Facebook page (@magicmomentsvodka) and YouTube Channel (@magicmomentsremix) for all music enthusiasts to add to their playlists.

Our flagship brand, 8 PM Premium Black whiskey, has also been running numerous online engagement activities and influencers programs. Recently, the brand associated with top shot stand-up comedians to promote its special edition puzzle pack that was launched to celebrate the spirit of IPL and the brand’s entry into the Millionaire club in FY21.

Last year, when the world’s movement and celebrations were restricted, we at Radico had taken up the task to not to allow the pandemic affect the spirit of our people. Continuing its momentum to keep the consumers’ spirit high, Radico Khaitan came up with another power packed initiative for India’s 74th Independence Day. The company launched a gratitude song, “Shukriya”, under the banner of The Spirit of Victory in the honour of the courageous Indian Army. Through the song, Radico Khaitan paid tribute to the Army for their immense sacrifice throughout and protecting the motherland without fearing for their own lives. The song was written and sung by the very versatile musical artist, writer and composer Padamjeet Sehrawat.

There have hardly been any events since March 2020, hence most of the focus shifted to digital. What helped us sail through is the fact that we were prepared to go digital.

You have produced several short films – with the latest one titled ‘Speed Dial’ with Shreyas Talpade. What’s the purpose behind producing and releasing these films? Is it a surrogate product for your brand, 8 PM?

‘Speed Dial’ is the first in a series of short films produced by 8 PM Premium Black Music CDs, as part of the brand’s strategy to collaborate with creators in the music and entertainment space, given its immense popularity, reach and alignment with the brand.

We’ve realised that digital content has been a catalyst for us during this past year, where we’ve been able to successfully connect and engage with our consumers that have been stuck at home. With short films, we are looking to further expand our digital presence and we see great potential in creating short format content that can capture the imagination of our consumers with unique, fun and relatable stories.


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