For a company to be successful and stay relevant it is important to stay updated with changing market trends while staying true to what the brand stands for, says Sumedh Singh Mandla,
As VBev builds its portfolio and adds new brands, labels and packaging are becoming a significant point of differentiation.International and domestic brands see the Indian market’s untapped potential and strive to make their mark. It is imperative for them to stand out on the shelf. They understand the power packaging and innovation have, to grab the attention of their target consumer and are capitalizing on it. This in essence is how Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO, VBev views the present situation. When asked about his preferences, he shares: “My preferences are constantly changing as market trends evolve and the needs and preferences of the consumer change.” He would attribute these changes to a host of factors – an increase in disposable income, the effects of globalization, conscious and healthy living, a large influx of new brands leading to a wider diversification of consumers and fascinating technological advances qSumedh opines that since a majority of the Indian population is under the age of 35, the Indian millennial will play an increasingly important role in influencing trends and consumption patterns. “We see an increase in packaging and product innovations across categories as it is a sure shot way to draw their attention. As a marketing initiative it is a very useful tool to create brand awareness and recall, change or alter brand perception and induce trials.”
Talking about innovative designs, he says,for a company to be successful and stay relevant it is important to stay updated on changing market trends while staying true to what the brand stands for. “We see historic brands like M. Chapoutier from a traditional wine region like France introduce Braille on their labels in 1996. A tribute to Maurice Monier of La Sizeranne, a member of the family that previously owned the vines of the same name and who invented the first abbreviated version of Braille.”Another example, he cites is that of Jura Single Malt Scotch whisky, the signature bottle that is now synonymous with the brand was specially designed to withstand its journey from the island distillery to the mainland. Innovative packaging can be the most impactful way to ensure your product is memorable, if done in synergy with the evolution of the brand, he adds. Sumedh says the Indian market is a big opportunity for international brands but it is also a complex one. “We are working with International producers to customize their offering to better suit the Indian market and consumer. I am especially excited to introduce the Monte Pacifico range to India, our latest collaboration from Chile.” Monte Pacifico is a vibrant young brand created for the Indian wine consumer, they are fruit forward, expressive and food friendly wines. The packaging is eye-catching and colourful yet premium with cap closure for convenience and a longer shelf life at a very competitive price. This makes them more accessible to a larger consumer base, he points out. On VBev’s willingness to spend more to get the best designs, the CEO points out that if a great quality product is no longer relevant, it can get the eyeballs it needs with innovative design and high-quality packaging. “Where we see an opportunity for a product to benefit from this, we see no problem in investing, as it undoubtedly contributes to the brands growth and success. A brand that has gained international recognition in the recent past for its innovative design is our vodka.Its unique 350 ml pack size, eye-catching bottle, one of a kind crown cap closure and minimal modern label design backed with a strongbrand story has made it a huge success among consumers.”
Talking about Indian brands making their presence felt, Sumedh says that during the last decade there are several Indian beverage brands and categories that have found appreciation from global consumers. Kingfisher Beer, Wines from Grover Zampa & Sula and Indian Single Malt Whisky segment led by Amrut, Paul John and Rampur are some fine examples. Innovative and international quality packaging is essential to compete at a global level. Even at the domestic level there are several fine examples of brands that have been launched with great packaging like Hapusa Gin, Good Earth Winery’s Concerto Collection, Antiquity Blue Whisky. Bira Beer can easily compete with global packaging, he adds. On Indian packaging companies, he says that Indian companies are very enterprising and are always looking for new trends on the rise, working quickly to make these available in India. High taxes and duties levied on alcobev brands leave companies with little to spend on high end and innovative packaging. “As a result, we see only limited examples of unique and innovative packaging on domestic labels. In my experience working with Indian companies, there are a select few that can meet International standards and I prefer to extend the opportunity to an Indian company first before exploring my options overseas.” Sumedh is categorical when he points out that in packaging he expects an increase in eco-friendly and sustainable material becoming increasingly relevant with leading wine brands like Zenato, Santa Margherita and Vina Pomal paving the way. “In a bid to increase consumer interaction, brands through packaging innovation will aim to encourage consumer interface with their products,” he says.