According to the All India Distillers’ Association, India has seen the launch of at least 6 brands of vodka, while in the same period few new brown spirits such as whiskey and rum were launched.
Among the new players are United Spirits, which launched a premium brand, Vladivar vodka, to go with its lower White Mischief brand, while United Breweries launched Pinky Vodka. These were joined by multinationals such as Diageo, Bacardi and Belvedere who brought their own vodka portfolio.
Divansh Burman, a consultant in the Indian liquor retail industry, told FoodNavigator-Asia that vodka sales are growing faster at the retail end and this trend is set to continue over the next five years.
According to International Wine & Spirit Research, vodka sales have grown from 350,000 cases in 2000 to 7.3 million cases in 2010, where each case is measured at nine litres. In addition, the vodka market grew by 22.2% in 2010, while the overall alcohol market grew by 16.1%.
“In my opinion, gender flexibility has a lot to do with this increased consumption. Studies show more women prefer vodka over men, and with India’s women gaining a voice in the booming economy, the rise in vodka sales seems real,” Burman said.
Burman also pointed out that traditionally, India has been a male-buyer market where whiskey or rum was consumed in the evening hours.
“But vodka is suitable to have in the day alone or in cocktails and since women can also prefer it, its also preferable to buy vodka over whiskey or rum,” he added.
Burman also pointed out that customers in small town markets increasingly prefer the lower-priced vodka, such as White Mischief, to brown spirits given their price, and the urban, cool quotient they carry.
“To many in the smaller markets, vodka represents a cool, urban lifestyle. These small towns are also seeing higher disposable incomes,” he added.
“In addition, a rising number of young people are staying back because India’s economic boom has reached them and they do not need to migrate to larger towns. As their numbers grow, expect vodka consumption to grow,” he remarked.