The spirits landscape in India is undeniably undergoing a huge wave of change. New spirit categories taking over priority lists, a fresh wave of conscious consumption, and consumers looking forward to community spaces for engagement and interaction are on the cards for 2024. With the third edition of The Vault Festival coming up in the next few weeks, Keshav Prakash, the Founder and Curator of the festival shares his insights on the Indian spirits landscape, the current trends in the alco-bev industry, and new innovations that will take shape this year.
Decoding The New-Age Indian Consumer
The new-age Indian consumer is one who approaches spirits with an insight-driven and value-based mindset. Away from the erstwhile consumption-focused era, this new age of drinking is more about an ‘experience over excess’ mindset, where the consumer wants to drink better, and not more.
As social media has democratized knowledge of availability and experiences, consumers are seeking more bite-sized trivia style information of their chosen niches and are demonstrating an interest towards experiences. More consumers are showing interest in community events, workshops, tasting tables, degustation menus where they can interact and engage with like-minded enthusiasts and connoisseurs.
Come Home Culture: India is soon to take over as one of the world’s largest at-home consumption market, a unique driver for consumers to pay attention to their home bars and hosting experiences in individualistic spaces.
Younger generations, led by the Millennials and Gen Z are a revolving door of new-age consumption trends, as they incorporate new buying behaviors every month. These categories of contemporary consumers will become the biggest buyers of luxury by far, representing 80% of global purchases – indicative to a rise in fine spirit consumption in the country.
How Premiumization as a Culture Took Shape
With an overall shift in taste and lifestyle patterns, consumers are seeking premium experiences across areas of consumption – with spirits leading the score. While premiumization was viewed as a passing trend in 2023, it will solidify as a behavioral tendency this year onwards.
Customers are increasingly seeking unique and premium products that offer distinctive taste, high quality ingredients, an artisanal edge with a sense of craftsmanship. This demand for aspirational products in the spirits landscape can be linked to the increasing maturity of Indian spirit consumers, who are a set of ‘evolved-curious’ drinkers.
Fun Fact: The sale of premium liquor priced INR 2,000 and above has risen by 48%. (CIABC). Global players are vying on India as a gateway to premium spirit consumption, as demand increased by 12% in FY23 for premium and luxe offerings across spirit categories.
The Brand Standpoint: How Are Producers Faring This Year?
Brands opting for a ‘one size fits all’ strategy are unlikely to make any mark in 2024. The way to reach the burgeoning Indian spirit community is by catering to specific niches and micro-segments (enthusiasts, curiosity driven experimentalists, connoisseurs) with tailor-made strategies personalized for each.
As consumers have an increased inkling over ‘experientials and value-driven experiences, brands must add tastings, tours, community initiatives and events to holistically engage the spirit community. Travel-led consumption is another trend for brands to capitalize on, thereby focusing on hyperlocal brews and cultural spirits.
With collectible culture taking over shelves, and limited editions and seasonal releases selling out within 24 hours, premium and ultra-premium offerings will be a great way to stand apart with a unique offering.
Spirit Focus: Hot Takes on New Categories Topping Charts
The Year of Agave Spirits – with a surge in interest towards agave spirits, India’s next stage of drinking will see a huge increase in the demand for not only Tequila and Mezcal, but also lesser-known agave variants such as Raicilla, Bacanora, and Sotol.
The Wave of Indian Whiskeys – with Indian-origin whiskeys winning global accolades and signature editions earning the status of collectibles, private label whiskeys and limited-edition launches are a huge driver of India’s rising whisky consumption, which overtook that of France
The Rum Resurgence – as Indians move away from Old Monk, a projected rise in Indian craft rums and rum variants is on the cards for 2024.
Curiosity is the big driver of India’s next phase of alco-bev consumption – the import of wines and Saké will increase astronomically this year, alongside the rise in craft beer sales.
Curated Collaborations and Experiences
Food and drink pairings are taking a new turn, and the ‘chakna culture’ is having a gourmet spin, with talented mixologists and culinary pros experimenting with exclusive degustation menus, and bar and restaurant pop-ups to experiment with new styles
The rise in collaborative menus with ingredient-forward cocktails, spirit centric components are a signature move by bars and mixologists who are actively experimenting with interesting cocktail combinations with coffee and spirit infusions.
Fine spirits are now the go-to consideration for luxe gifting options that can add a touch of personalization and sophistication to any occasion.
Consumers are no longer hoarding spirits for personal consumption, rather, they are keen to engage in gifting distinctive spirits with a focus on its heritage and pedigree story, rather than staying loyal to a particular brand.
With duty-free availability of high-end Indian labels and international boutique spirits at airports, travel-based purchasing is returning to its former glory. According to Euromonitor International, India’s luxury market is expected to be one of the fastest growing in the world, with fine spirits contributing to a large segment of luxury consumption.
About The Vault Festival
Founded and curated by Keshav Prakash in 2019, The Vault Festival is Asia’s premier craft spirits event that hosts four unique experience pillars Taste, Discover, Listen and Indulge, to have an immersive experience in the world of spirits.
This event is the only spirit-focused festival that is primarily conversation-forward, where the consumer is at the forefront of leading dialogue and discussion.
The ethos of the festival is celebrating a culture of spirit appreciation amongst connoisseurs and enthusiasts, promoting the ‘slow-drink’ movement this year.
The third edition this year is taking place on February 17 and 18 at Jio World Garden, Mumbai. Launching a set of unique Certification Trails on craft spirits, mixology, and hosting; the festival aims to be an enriching and educational experience for its visitors.
Sneak Peeks of the 2024 Edition:
The Vault Festival has a coffee partner this time, for some unique caffeine-forward spirit concoctions! Stay tuned to find out more on how Blue Tokai will shake things up this year.
The culinary lounges at this edition will be curated by Gourmet Tales Co, the official culinary partners who have some bold, curative experiences lined up!