Fernando Bustamante, CEO, Mahou India has been working with the company since 1991, holding various managerial positions in on and off trade business in Spain. His charismatic personality reflects his love for beer and football which form an essential part of Spanish culture. Fernando’s passion to take beer to consumers holds the same place in his heart as much as cheering for his favourite football stars of Spain.
Having spent over three decades with the Spanish beer major, he has enjoyed every moment working in the Indian market. After spending quality time here and understanding how the market operates, he finds the Indian beer market very fascinating. The desire for experimentation is high and modern Indians want to experiment with new flavors and they do not mind spending more if they are given premium quality products, says Fernando Bustamante, CEO, Mahou India. This, he says is contrary to popular perception. With the growing popularity of craft beer and microbreweries, there is a great opportunity for Mahou as well as other international players.The major takeaway is that since consumers are willing to embrace better quality,“it is this insight we are using for our future strategy.”
On how does he rate the growth of his beer variants in the country, he says that Mahou 5 Star and Mahou Clasica have been well received since they were admired by consumers as the Spanish beer that comes with the legacy of Mahou Group, the128-year-old company in Spain. Both these products fall in the premium category and with a young, vibrant and growing population, his expectations for the premium category of beer looks positive. “With the launch of Mahou Maestra Wheat, another variant in the premium category, we are all set to delight beer enthusiasts. This is also the first Mahou wheat beer to be ‘made in India’ and we are sure that people will enjoy becoming part of the Mahou Maestra Moments.” Talking about how differently Mahou approaches the Indian market as compared to the Spanish market, Fernando says the approach in Spain is very different from what they are practicing in India. This is because in India, they are a young brand. “We believe in the philosophy of launch, learn and scale. We are in India for the long term, and we want to do it right. We have recently launched our Mahou Maestra Wheat in the wheat beer category. This year we are expanding our presence in new states such as Goa and Bengaluru.” He further reveals that Mahou has been globally associated with football. They are the official sponsors of coveted football clubs like Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid. “For India, we have tied up with La Liga India as well and we are working with them to promote football in India.” When asked to share about Mahou’s new beer and its launch plans, he goes on to says that It is a Belgian style (Witbier) beer that has been brewed under the highest standards of the European brewing process that Mahou follows in all its breweries since 1890. Maestra Wheat comes with a golden color and thick and creamy foam. Its principal character isa fruity aroma and a slight hint of hops along with a refreshing feeling and a touch of sweetness that creates a well-balanced sensation in the palate. He says it the perfect fusion of Spain and India ethos because of the mixture of its tangy hints and fruity feeling of Sevillian (Spanish) orange peel and the herbal spicy notes nutty and citrus flavor with lemony notes of Himalayan organic coriander, making it refreshing, delectable and easy to drink.
As part of Mahou’s marketing plans, Fernando says they are organizing Beer Master Class for various stakeholders, talking about the beer culture through this activity. Communication through social media forms an integral part of marketing campaign and the company consistently shares content around the product, ingredients, brewing process, art of pouring, et al. “We have launched Mahou Maestra Wheat in Rajasthan, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal and Bengaluru.” When asked how Mahou will build its brands in an Indian market dominated as it is by three beer brands, Fernando says:“We have the utmost respect for our competitors; they have done a great job over the last few years, considering the speed at which the beer market in India is growing.” Mahou he reveals has a long-term commitment to the Indian market and “we want to make things differently here with products that are unique to the Indian audience. We want to serve Indian consumers with as many offerings as possible for different occasions; serving different needs including alcoholic, non-alcoholic and other types of beverages.”
Currently having a presence in 14 markets, namely Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Assam, Punjab, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Goa, West Bengal and Bangalore, Mahou is busy planning and organizing events and activations in the on-trade market to promote Spanish lifestyle. We are also working to promote football in India and working with La Liga India for various screenings of football matches. Giving details about the kind of foods that go well with their brands, he reveals that their newest edition, Mahou Maestra Wheat goes well with a variety of authentic tapas of Spain like patatas bravas, olives,and croquettes or with Indian tapas such as paneer tikka, sea food, tandoori tikkas,and pakoras. Both Spanish and Indian tapas are an awesome combination with the orange aroma and the spicy hints of coriander of Maestra Wheat. On where does he see Mahou five years from now he says, “With a young and growing population of young adults who are increasingly more adoptive of premium brands in their focus towards a quality lifestyle, expectations for growth are particularly positive. We are very positive and upbeat about our brands in the Indian beer market and are fully committed to make it a success.” For him his three decades in the brewing industry been a great journey. “I definitely feel proud to be a part of Mahou Group. Our strength in the Spanish market has been a result of our focus on embellishing the category, driving innovation and premium products.” He further adds that in India, brands are innovating to cater to the evolving consumer who is willing to experiment and embrace new experiences. There has been an increase in disposable incomes, urbanization and growing youth population as well as rising acceptance of social drinking that has helped the growth of both the beer market and “us as a brand.Young urban millennials are gaining an appetite for beer and it has become a part of social interactions,” he adds by way of a parting shot.
THE MAHOU PORTFOLIO
Mahou Clásica is a premium lager that comes with a tinge of fruity flavours. It has bright golden colour with a crystalline aspect and a faint, elegant malt aroma. It maintains the original recipe, taste and quality given to its production since 1890 in the lands of Spain giving a refreshing drinking experience.
Mahou 5 star
Mahou 5 Star is a flagship product produced with the finest varieties of hops and yeast that stands out for its golden colour and distinctively mild and lingering taste. It is a well-balanced beer which is made with signature yeast, whose secret recipe is stored under high security in the beer’s originating country, Spain.
Mahou Maestra Wheat
Mahou Maestra Wheat is a Belgian style wheat beer that comes with a golden colour and thick and creamy foam. Its principal character is a fruity aroma and a slight hint of hops along with a refreshing feeling and a touch of sweetness that creates a well-balanced sensation in the palate. It is available in 330 ml bottles (pints) as well as in 500 ml cans in Delhi/NCR, Goa, West Bengal and Bengaluru. This is the first Mahou Wheat beer to be ‘made in India’ and also the first wheat beer in India that comes with a pull-off cap in its pint bottle, as part of its premium packaging.