Two year old domestic craft beer brand Bira 91 is going global. The company has announced plans to open distribution network in five overseas markets - the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and UAE. It is already present in the US.
The two year old firm that was started by 36 year old Ankur Jain has already made strong headway in the Indian beer market. It doubled its sales to 5 million cases in 2016 and is targeting a four-fold jump this year at 20 lakh cases. That would Bira a serious player in the 300 million cases plus market. While United Breweries that sells the Kingfisher brand is the undisputed leader with sales of over 150 million cases, the others like SAB-Miller and Carlsberg sell less than 100 million every year.
"We always wanted to take on the big boys in the market. But at the end of the day it is really about the consumer and what he likes. So what we figured out with the premium consumer is equally applicable in my view to the mass market consumer too," says Jain.
"We feel there is a big gap in the market for beers that are taste oriented in the strong beer category."
Jain is banking on the global foray to also yield dividends to its brand building exercise in India. The entry into US, considered the toughest market for craft beers, was against the advice of its investors but Jain has held firm.
"Our ambition is to become the first global brand from India. In that ambition, New York City was the first city we got into because it gives us international validation. New York was the perfect tier I city for us to start instead of an Africa, Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand. You can be successful in Singapore but that does not guarantee success in London.
It is the toughest market in the world for craft beer. We are shipping the beer straight from India," he says. "With the entry into London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Dubai, we expect to embark on this journey towards achieving that ambition of creating the first global brand of craft beers " Bira's global foray would be managed by Anshul Agarwal and Vijay K Nadkarni.