If you ask some 10-20 people around, out of all the alcohol beverages available, which is their favorite alcoholic beverage? What would they like to have in a bar with their friends over a game of Cricket of Football? In fact, which is one of the world’s oldest prepared beverages? If you truly are a fan, you surely would have gotten a clue of what this beverage is.
The answer is sweet and simple. . . A Mug of fresh Beer.
Over the years, there have been many changes in beer and its types. Craft beer is one of them. Craft Brewers have established high levels of quality as well as innovation, expanding the mindset of beer consumers and creating the most diverse brewing culture in the world.
The Story of Bira
Craft beer entered India through Bira91 only. A simple, yet brilliant business model that would leave you amazed and in awe. Let us take you through this amazing success story!
An Introduction to Bira91
The protagonist of the story, Ankur Jain completed his bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago and started his journey through a healthcare information startup. Then, he founded a company called Cerana Beverages in 2009 that imported and marketed high-quality craft beer brands from Europe – Belgium, Germany, and the United States. The beer was sold in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, in 330ml pint size bottles.
Ankur saw huge potential for a beer business in India’s growing market and he decided to take a leap., Jain spent 3 years of his time understanding the beer market, touring Europe to understand the different exotic beers available and choose one for the Indian audience. It’s wise what he did: learning about the intricate details of the beers before getting into the business of it. And he decided to specialize in craft beer.
Initially, the beer was supposed to be called “Biru”. But after a registration problem in Japan, he decided to call it Bira. His team spent almost nine months in the branding exercise, including finalizing the name, mascot logo, colors, and other aspects of the packaging.
Bira sounds cool, Why Bira91?
91 is the country code of India and it made it sound more unique. The mascot is a monkey because he believes most of us have a monkey inside us. Heck, we humans have evolved from monkeys. Thus the name “Bira91” with a monkey on its label was selected. According to Ankur, much of the early success of Bira could be credited to the design of the product. It indeed is catchy, impressive and youth connects with the brand on the first sight. Jain manufactured and packed the beer in Belgium and then imported it to India.
Bira91 was selling beers that were unique in the market: unique in color and in taste. The goal was to fill the gap in the market for an unorthodox, unconventional, fun brand of beer. Bira91’s target audience was the youth of Indis and hence, they wanted to reach out to the young, urban, Indian consumer. Their design and bottle packaging played a major role in this, as it was designed for this purpose alone. To successfully get to this audience, their plan was simple. Since direct alcohol ads are banned in India, they focused only on distribution.
They didn’t use any kind of marketing campaign or any sort of surrogate tricks. What they simply did was make the product available in very few pubs. The rest was left to the people who gave a good response to the product. After that, it was a viral word of mouth (WOM) publicity. As a result, Bire91 gained a 30% share in the premium segment without spending anything on traditional marketing.
All the hard work, their planning, and estimations resulted in success. In just a few months Bira managed to start with one manufacturing unit each in Maharashtra and Rajasthan (another one was set up at Indore, and plans were made to set up one in Nagpur); and also managed to sell 10,000 cases in Delhi NCR alone.
Initially, Bira91 was available in two flavors: Bira White Ale & Bira Blonde Lager.
Bira91 White Ale: It is a different wheat beer with a lack of bitterness and a soft finish. It has a taste that is sweeter and citrusy than normal beer.
Bira91 Blonde Lager: It is more conventional than its other variant. However, it is different in taste and color. It is extra malty with a delicate aroma and little bitterness.
In 2016, Bira91 sold 35,000 cases (2500 barrels) a month, and also expanded its base to Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Goa, Pune, and Chandigarh as well. They had a penetration of 70% in all their markets and are growing at the rate of 30% month on month.
Bira91 also raised their first round of funding of US$6 million from Sequoia Capital, Kunal Bahl, Rohit Bansal, Deepinder Goyal, Ashish Dhawan, and Mayank Singhal.
Bira has now added two more new variants of beer: Bira91 Light and Bira91 Strong.
Bira91 Light: As the name suggests, it is a mild beer, low in alcohol (4 percent as compared to the regular 7 percent) and low in calories (90 calories). It is a clean, crisp drink anyone can have at any time of the day.
Bira91 Strong: This beer is to give competition to the other leading beer brands in the market. It has 7 percent alcohol content and is described as the first strong wheat-based beer, less bitter and high on caramel notes.