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Hite On High Notes – Interview of the week

Hitejinro, an iconic name in the Korean alcoholic beverages industry, entered the Indian market in September 2017 with its much acclaimed premium Hite Extra Cold beer. The company has teamed up with Malay Rout-led company, Innovative Activations as the Indian partner. Hong Seokpyo, Head of Sales (Southwest Asia) Hitejinro Co Ltd, South Korea told Bishan Kumar that he sees good potential in the Indian market and intend to enrich Hite portfolio soon.

As brewers from all over the world wanting to have a stake in the hugely potential beer market of India, anther beer giant from South Korea has its goal set for its globally loved premium beer, Hite Extra Cold beer. In a very short span of 8-9 month, Hite has spread its reach to 6 states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Assam and set to conquer many new states like including Chandigarh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in the North. A few other regions are to be on Hite radar soon. Encouraged by the good response to Hite beer in the market, the company has plans to launch its new products, Hite strong and Max, an all malt lager type beer with a rich flavor.Jinro, founded in 1924,is an established Korean player with 100% domestic capital and Hite, set up in 1933, was the first domestic brewer in Korea. The two joined forces in 2005 to become one of the top alcoholic beverages companies in Korea. The combined entity Hitejinro is today an iconic Korean brand, producing and distributing diverse products that include whisky, wine, traditional liquor and sparkling liquor. The sale of Jinro Soju (a clear distilled Korean beverage) is reportedly more than that of Smirnoff vodka, Bacardi rum and Johnnie Walker whisky put together. A combination of product quality and active engagement in social responsibility initiatives, particularly in the areas of sports and culture, have made the company a name to recon with in the industry. Says Hong Seokpyo, ‘Since September 2017 we have exported 90,644 litres of Hite beer and I hope this is a green signal which would lead to much higher performance in the long-term. Our goal is to target the whole of India and towards this we plan to do a lot of study and product development.’ Seokpyo, who is in-charge of India, Mongolia, Indonesia, Nepal and Srilanka, says while talking about the potential in different markets, ‘I believe India has the maximum potential, both because of the population and the beer drinking trends.’ The company is counting on tasting sessions and creating awareness regarding the processing technology to promote its light beer Hite Extra Cold in a country where a majority prefer strong beers. Says Seokpyo, ‘We emphasize our extra cold processing technology that creates conditions just above the freezing point throughout the entire production process, from aging to filtration. This results in unmatched freshness and the authentic pale lager flavour.’ The company is also planning launch events in restaurants, tasting sessions, sports sponsorships and other brand exposure events to promote the brand in the country.

He further reveals that the company also plans to export its new products Hite Extra strong and Max beers. Max, is again a lager type all malt beer with a rich flavor. ‘The exclusive ‘nonthermal’ technology adopted in the process makes Max much fresher and smoother. This creamy and smooth beer can also penetrate the taste of Indian consumers,’ informs Seokpyo. Additionally targeting particular countries with preference of strong beer, the company is also intending to export Hite Extra Strong with 8% of alcohol contents. This robust beer including its taste, aroma, and package denotes a winning combination. On world’s largest selling liquor product, Soju’s market in India , Hong share that from 2007 his company is exporting its soju Jinro Chamisul for the Indian consumers. Sharing his projection for Hite beer in the Indian market for the next five years, Seokpyo says,‘India is a very different and unpredictable market. We are in the premium segment, so our idea is to be available in all potential outlets across India with Hite Extra Cold as well as Hite Exra Strong and Max. Availability, awareness, width and depth of distribution all are important to us. The long-term vision is not only growth in volumes, but also composite growth across all sectors.’ For achieving its objective, the company is in active collaboration with its Indian partner, Inovative Activation. Says Seokpyo, ‘We are trying to give as much support as possible to our Indian partner to expand our Indian market and offering the consumers many choices. We will offer both financial and marketing support, as our partner is a key player. I will do my best to encourage our key player, helping him leverage the passion and motivation.’