On-Ground Activations Will Remain The Core Focus Of Our Marketing Strategy: Kartik Mohindra

Our objective for the next six months, including festivities, is to do high-decibel marketing with a strong consumer acquisition strategy, shares Mohindra in this exclusive interview.


India is one of the fastest-growing alcoholic beverages markets globally, with estimated market size of $52.5 billion in 2020 and the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8% between 2020 and 2023, reveals a recent report. This shows that the Indian market is witnessing a spate of innovations in the Indian alcoholic beverage space. 

Kartik Mohindra, CMO, Pernod Ricard India,  recently spoke to us about the growth the market is going to witness in the coming years, the brand's growth strategy, and more.

What has been the story of the alco-Bev industry over the past two-plus years in terms of business?

Well the alco-Bev industry went through difficult times especially in the first year of Covid, with production going down globally, R&D stalled and stores were shut, also with taxation issues sent the pricing through the roof. 

Once that crisis got over, we were on our way to a very strong bounce back. We are back on our intended trajectory as per projections. A bit of a speed bump really, but our business has never looked stronger than it does today. All our brands are growing at an extremely rapid pace, and we hope that the pandemic is behind us and that this trajectory is going to stay.

You have launched the new whisky brand Oaken Glow, what kind of marketing mix have you planned for it?

Consumers appreciate different product offerings that are out there. We consider this the right time to get into the premium segment. We increasingly felt that this sector is going to become the heart of the business and this is where we will see a lot of new entrants.

The whole marketing plan is highly differentiated from any of the competing products that you might have seen. So, unfortunately, our launch coincided with a fair bit of the pandemic period, so our initial foray was limited to western markets and then North India - Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, etc. 

Then it was the North Eastern markets, predominantly Assam, where we went about building the brand from the grassroots level, covering milestones little by little. Because of the fact that we went for a phased approach to build the brand in every state and open newer markets, we adopted a fairly wide marketing strategy that covers a digital-first approach. 

So we have a strong social media strategy in place, in particular, an influencer strategy - whoever has savored the taste has become an ambassador quite organically for us. This can be summed up in - a digital-first approach to generate awareness and deliver appreciation or say communicated appreciation of the product, followed by a very strong PoS presence. Not only this, we have brand shops in key locations where the whole outlet is taken over to give a differentiated experience of the brand. 

What strategy are you following as far as activations and digital experiences are concerned?

As of now, the large focus has been on the experience part. What the pandemic did was convert a lot of consumption to ‘in-home’, but now we can see the consumers are returning to the bars and clubs. The pandemic also did a lot of experimentation in mixology, those are two areas that we have focused on to create a niche position for the new brand.

Oaken Glow is peat fired, so there is a smoky sort of profile that differentiates it from what’s out there in the category. The smoky stories are helping mixologists create unique and different cocktails, that the consumers would doubly enjoy in addition to the experiments at home. 

Going forward, we will be taking this to become a winter favourite in the northern and north-eastern parts of the country, we are going to do ‘Smoky evenings’ which is about a bunch of people getting together, making barbeques, etc - basically a great pairing of whisky with barbeque cuisines of a consumer's choice. Again, we have noticed that the smoky palate is a differentiated space to be in. There are going to be a lot of on-ground activations because creating brand experience will remain the core component of our strategy going forward, followed by the intricate ways of advertising the product.

What is your growth plan for the next six months?

Our business prospects are looking pretty strong. Our objective for the next 6 months, including festivities, is to do high-decibel marketing with a strong consumer acquisition strategy because we would like to end the year on the right note. As far as Oakenglow is concerned, starting early next month, we want to expand the brand’s presence across newer markets including Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Bengal, and Goa, and we want to do pan-India distribution in the next 6 months. Overall, we have very strong ambitions to set the brand on the right track. We aim to cross a million mark in sales within a couple of years.

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