AB InBev is best known for its beer brands, owning many well-known names such as Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois in India, but recently the firm made the decision to branch out into the energy drinks segment, a completely new market for it not just in India but globally.
“Budweiser Beats is the first non-alcoholic energy drink from Budweiser globally with India the maiden country for this launch,” AB InBev India New Business Development Director Sivasubramaniam S told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Our foray into the energy drink category is [to us] a natural progression after the launch of our non-alcohol beers, Budweiser 0.0, Hoegaarden 0.0 & Hoegaarden Rosée. With [Budweiser Beats], AB InBev India aims to disrupt an otherwise established but severely underpenetrated category [to] meet evolving consumer preferences.
“Furthermore, as the Indian consumer’s palate and preferences expand, energy drinks are a logical expansion for the brand in a country where the youth are ready to try new beverages.”
Despite this being a completely new category for the firm, Sivasubramaniam revealed that AB InBev has already set ambitious targets to capture 10% of local energy drink market share within two years from zero at present.
“The energy drink market is an INR14bn (US$189.3mn) category in India and is poised for growth,” he said.
“The category is primarily driven by millennials and affluent consumers across key urban centres and has become increasingly popular in the country - However, [it is still] heavily underpenetrated and has a significant headway for growth, as we have witnessed in other markets.
“With the potential the category has to offer, we have set ambitious targets to capture 10% of the energy drink market within the first two years.”
This was also one of the reasons that the firm chose to launch its first energy drink under the well-established Budweiser brand as opposed to creating a new one for the range, in hopes of driving growth for the segment more rapidly.
“We are looking to accelerate and reach new consumer segments by leveraging the growing equity of Budweiser [as this brand] has seen tremendous growth in India over the last decade and is the leading premium beer brand in the country with category-leading brand power.
“India is also one of the top five growth markets for Budweiser globally and we are building a successful, international premium brand here - With Budweiser, we have created India specific Innovations like Budweiser Magnum beer and our foray into the non-alcohol beer category was with Budweiser 0.0, which is now the market leader locally.”
Standing out from the competition
That said, the firm is making the new launch coming up against tough, well-established competition from energy drink brands that have dominated the local market for years, such as Red Bull and Monster, and needs to rely on more than just the Budweiser brand to stand out in the crowd.
“[Apart from innovation to create] superior taste, Budweiser Beats was also formulated using natural caffeine and B-vitamins for a superior drinking experience,” said Subramaniam.
“As we are dedicated to building great brands using the finest natural ingredients, we source the caffeine for Budweiser Beats from a natural origin, namely dried Coffea Robusta beans.”
The firm is also very focused on providing variety for consumers, and although he remained coy on product development for the range, Sivasubramaniam said that many more variants of Budweiser Beats are on the way.
“Many more innovations [are coming] under the Budweiser Beats umbrella, [as we aim] to address all the possible needs of our energy drink consumers,” he said.
“There are many consumers looking for options such as low-sugar in their energy drinks, and moving forward we will address these needs [with more innovations], be it different tastes or amounts of sugar.”