Stay close to the consumer this year: Nitesh Chhapru, Diageo India

Shrugging off the disruptions of the year gone by, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Over the next few weeks, Adgully – as part of its annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – will be presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020.

Nitesh Chhapru, VP - Marketing & Business Innovation, Diageo India, looks back at the challenging year for the alco-bev industry, adaption of e-commerce models and home deliveries, as well as the key trends that will dominate in 2021 amid an unpredictable market scenario.

Outlook for 2021

India’s potential is continuously on the rise, especially among the young and affluent consumer segment for our premium category, where penetration is low. In 2021, we see the momentum gaining ground in the next 6-9 months, with the economy accepting the new normal. Staying close to the consumer and understanding their changed consumption pattern would be key, along with a strong play in culture and media from a marketing purview. We hope to see the consumer return to their favourite bars and responsibly drive sales through these outlets. 

Changes in consumer behaviour

The pandemic is fuelling some underlying consumer trends like “drinks in-the-house with close friends & family”, “spontaneous socialising on weekdays”, “Made in India Pride”, “Relatively better for my well-being” and “increasing social & ethical consciousness”. We see marketing and innovation play a key role in leveraging some of these underlying consumer trends.

For example, to make Scotch Whisky more relevant to spontaneous socialising, we landed on the idea of “Stylish Spontaneity” created this innovative hipflask packaging format with the campaign ‘JUST GOT HIP’. This innovative format makes Scotch Whisky more accessible and relevant for today’s Legal Purchase Age+ Millennials spontaneous and casual socialising occasions.

Looking back at 2020

I think 2020 has been a challenging year for all businesses, especially for the alco-bev industry with our bars, retail outlets, etc., going on a total lockdown for a few months. Adapting to the new change and developing carefully thought-out strategies month on month was key, keeping in mind the state policies on liquor. The company has also been adapting to e-commerce models and home deliveries, which was a significant focus as the second and third phase of the lockdown unravelled.

Diageo’s foray into smaller formats of consumption such as the Scotch Hipster came at a time when innovation was most needed to meet the evolving needs of the new and further informed millennial consumer. The one take away I would say is cross-functional integration and agile teams to respond real time and a focus on the consumer insights should be at the core of all brands going forward, to ensure sustainability in this VUCA world.


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