Beer is perhaps the most widely-enjoyed alcoholic beverage in India today. It has become a lifestyle product, having found growing acceptance as a social drink and a clear preference amongst youngsters. Beer sales expectedly lost their fizz a bit during the initial lockdown phase, but it was a temporary blip in an otherwise continuing growth trajectory. As the economy recovered from the Covid-induced slump and Covid vaccinations progressed at a rapid clip across the country, business at bars and restaurants witnessed a rebound. In June 2021, after the second Covid wave had subsided, business at bars and restaurants registered a growth of 40.2% over June 2020.
Despite the ups and downs of the past couple of years, things are certainly looking up in the coming year and beyond, from a beer lover's standpoint. Here are some of the major trends we can expect.
(Also Read: Top 8 Food And Dining Trends That Shaped 2021)
1. Flavour and fizz will be a winning combination: Flavours have become an important factor in driving the love for, and the consumption of, beer. Consumers today are far more experimentative and open to trying out new flavours. Beer is a generational product category, and for this generation, beer means a different flavour and a different experience for each occasion. This understanding of consumer preferences has helped beer brands like us to build a strong connect with consumers. I believe that Taprooms are a wonderful way to get people to try out new flavours and capture their feedback; it helps us crowd-source the idea for the next beer. Current trends suggest a growing demand for exotic fruity flavors and premium beers.
2. With low and non-alcoholic beers, we can actually drink to our health: There's growing awareness among consumers about the health quotient of the foods and beverages they enjoy. The market is responding with a wide range of beverages that have little or no alcohol, and beer has some of the widest range of low-calorie variants available today. Bira 91 Light, for instance, with 80 calories in a 330 ml bottle, has fewer calories as compared to a glass of champagne, wine, cocktails, or even a glass of milk or orange juice!
3. Location no bar... people will enjoy beer at home: With restaurants, pubs and bars across the country limiting their seating capacity in abeyance of Covid protocols, and with consumers themselves observing greater caution, there has been a surge in the in-home consumption of beer. This accelerated trend might revert to its original pace when the pandemic subsides, but it is a trend that will continue strongly, nonetheless. According to a survey last year, six in every ten liquor consumers in India were willing to purchase alcohol online if they had the option of doing so.
4. Packaging will be consumer-and-environment-friendly: We will see eye-catching packaging designs for beer - the packaging of Bira 91 Malabar Stout, which evokes Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, is a case in point. There will also be sharper focus on packaging that fits in well with the consumers' lifestyles. Given the increase in at-home consumption of beer, multipacks such as Bira's six-pack bottles or 12-pack cans will become the preferred option for stocking beer at home. Meanwhile, with consumers increasingly seeking products that can be disposed in an environment-friendly way, beer manufacturers will look to develop eco-friendly and reusable packaging.
5. Beer brands will create more engaging, online user experiences: With the influence of digital and social media on the rise, beer brands will build more, new online touchpoints for engaging with their audiences in meaningful, personalised ways that also deliver tangible business outcomes. As beer is a lifestyle product, beer brands will explore merchandising options such as glassware, service ware, apparel, accessories, and more, to strengthen their consumer connect.
Barring any unforeseen and unexpected situations, beer will continue its winning streak of innovation, discovery, and acceptance. The beer market in India is growing rapidly, and I anticipate it to double by 2030 as compared to 2020. I believe that, by 2030, almost 25% of India's population will be beer consumers; one in every three consumers will be female; and almost two-thirds of the beer will be consumed in small towns. On that note, let's hope and be optimistic that people around the world are once again able to enjoy good beer with their near and dear ones.
About The Author: Ankur Jain is the CEO and Founder, Bira 91.