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More Women Consuming Alcohol in India is Great News for Absolut’

February 27, 2019 05:40 AM

COURTESY ET FEB 27

More Women Consuming Alcohol in India is Great News for Absolut’
Ratna.Bhushan@timesgroup.com

New Delhi:

The rising trend of more women consuming alcohol in India is “great news for us”, says Anna Malmhake, global chairman of The Absolut Company, maker of Absolut vodka.


“More women drinking is great news for Absolut,” Malmhake, who is in the country on a market visit, told ET in an interview on Tuesday. “When women have the money and… start going out, spirits consumption becomes more egalitarian, more unisex and inclusive — that’s when brands like ours tend to take off.”

Absolut, owned by the world’s second-largest distiller Pernod Ricard, has been growing in double digits in India for four years, she said.

Pernod Ricard, which also makes Chivas Regal Scotch, Royal Stag whisky and Havana Club rum, reported sales of ₹15,693 crore in India in the year ended March 2018 with a net profit of ₹1,228 crore, according to its latest filings with the Registrar of Companies.

Malmhake, who has been heading the company since July 2016, has formerly worked with Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola.

On India predominantly being a whisky market with vodka continuing to be small, she said, “Absolut tends to act outside its category. It’s a brand that’s so strong that it doesn’t always follow a vodka category.”

Absolut’s biggest market is the US, while India ranks among its top 20 markets.

The liquor market is highly regulated in the country, with pricing being a state subject, multiple taxation, and prohibition in states such as Gujarat and Bihar.

“Of course there is more regulation in India compared to a lot of other markets,” Malmhake said. “If you’re in the alcohol sector, you are prepared for that. India has so many regulations — but that’s the case even in the US, Europe — in many states,” she said.

“For a premium brand, being regulated doesn’t really affect us much, compared to the local segment. Of course, it affects the business, but if a consumer wants to drink Absolut vodka on a Friday evening, they will.”

She said the overall Indian vodka market is 7.4 million cases of nine litres each, and Absolut has 78.7% share of the premium vodka segment.

A WHO report released in September 2018 said, alcohol consumption in India more than doubled between 2005 and 2016, and estimated that at $38 billion, India’s alcohol market is among the world’s fastest growing. The report said alcohol consumption in India increased from 2.4 litres in 2005 to 5.7 litres in 2016, with 4.2 litres being consumed by men and 1.5 litre by women. Overall alcohol per capita consumption (15+ years) is expected to increase in half of the WHO regions by 2025, the report said

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