For UBL, 2022 was year of revival due to ‘revenge consumption’ of beer: Rishi Pardal

For United Breweries Ltd, whose brand Kingfisher has become synonymous with beer in India, 2022 has been a year of revival after two years of Covid. For its flagship brand Kingfisher, UBL unveiled a refreshed visual identity which has resonated well with consumers, says Rishi Pardal, MD and CEO, United Breweries Ltd.

“As the market leader, we continued to invest behind our twin strategic pillars of category penetration and premiumisation,” Pardal says in this interview with Adgully. Excerpts:

How has the year 2022 been for the alcobev industry in India?

2022 was a year of revival for us after two years of Covid, when beer consumption was severely impacted on the back of the pandemic-induced lockdowns, shutting down of bars and restaurants, and increasing levels of taxation by states.

Rising temperatures due to the early onset of summer this year and the opening up of markets created strong momentum for ‘revenge consumption’ of beer across the country. As the market leader, we continued to invest behind our twin strategic pillars of category penetration and premiumisation. For our flagship brand Kingfisher, we unveiled a refreshed visual identity, which has resonated well with consumers. To offer more premium beverages to consumers, we launched the new Heineken Silver, a delightfully refreshing, smooth-tasting and easy-to-drink lager, in Karnataka and Maharashtra.

As a result of market momentum as well as our efforts, we saw a record summer and a revival in business this year.

How has the response been to Heineken Silver from the market?

The early indicators for Heineken Silver are positive and we plan to focus on consumption of this premium beverage going forward. With Heineken Silver, we aim to engage with the GenZ (of legal drinking age and above) in the digital playground and through innovative, immersive experiences on-ground.

What are the key trends and developments that dominated the year in your industry/ sector? What are their implications in the times ahead?

This year, we witnessed revival of demand in the underpenetrated Indian market as bars and restaurants opened up and consumers stepped out of their homes for social gatherings. Consumers also showed an appetite to experiment beyond the classics and try new aromas and textures in beer. Our craft style Belgian wheat beer Ultra Witbier, present in nine states so far, was launched in Telangana this year. On the other hand, smaller markets in the country saw value-conscious consumers opting for economy propositions.

A key trend that also emerged this year was premiumisation, with urban consumers showing preference for premium beverages and experiences. To put this in perspective, in the July-September quarter this year, our premium portfolio’s growth (Heineken and Kingfisher Ultra) more than doubled, compared to our overall portfolio growth, strengthening our faith in the long-term growth potential of the premium beer segment.

How has your company’s performance been in 2022? What were the major steps taken to boost growth and create deeper engagement with your consumers?

Our strong financial results this year are a result of the efforts we undertook together as a team, especially cost control, and our learnings from the pandemic period, which helped us leverage a good summer. Our PAT rose 160% y-o-y in April-September 2022, while volume grew 66.5% y-o-y.

Our efforts to shape the Indian beer market were on the back of our twin strategic pillars of market penetration and premiumisation.

This summer, our iconic brand Kingfisher launched the ‘Spread the Cheer’ campaign, celebrating this year as the ‘Year of the Cheer’. Through this campaign, Kingfisher also created a viral dance hook-step with actors Rashmika Mandanna and Varun Dhawan.

A key milestone for this year has been the launch of Heineken Silver. This delightfully refreshing lager has received a lot of love in 26 other markets globally, and we are confident that it will also appeal to the new generation of beer drinkers in India. 


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