Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev, a Belgium-Brazilian conglomerate, is one of the largest global drinks and brewing company which owns some of the best beer brands in the world such as Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois. Last August, AB InBev announced a partnership with Raj Brewery Pvt Ltd to produce and bottle its renowned brands in Nepal. Raj Brewery, a Jawalakhel Group of Industries (JGI) company, is planning to launch Budweiser beer in the domestic market.
Udit Mediratta, marekting director of AB InBev South Asia, was recently in Nepal for a visit. Mediratta sat down with New Business Age to talk about the opportunities in the Nepali beer market, its plans here, among other topics. Excerpts:
Tell us about your role as Marketing Director for AB InBev South Asia.
Currently, I am doing marketing for Global brands in the company for South Asia. By global brands, we mean those brands which we think can lead the premiumisation agenda of the company across the world.
We have certain global brands - Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, and Michelob Ultra - and we think these brands can be successful in all countries across the world and have a global appeal.
I lead marketing for these four brands in South Asia. One of the ways of growing in the industry is to grow volume, and the other is if you can get consumers to upgrade to better, more high quality products.
What do the brands Corona, Budweiser and Foster’s stand for?
Budweiser is basically a premium brand for young people who are in an enterprise stage of life who think that they can achieve anything in life and there is nothing to stop them. Corona is basically about relaxation and unwinding. Corona exists to encourage people, to disconnect from their work life and reconnect themselves in nature. So that is why you see our corona imagery in the beach, or around the mountains.
Likewise, Fosters embodies the Australian spirit and attitude towards life. They are like chilled, laid back, not taking life too seriously.
How important is Nepal for AB InBev and how do you see Nepal’s Beer industry shaping up in the future?
Nepal is increasingly becoming an important market for South Asia. I think we are already late here. We should have entered and scaled in the Nepali market much earlier, but we have found a great partner in Raj Brewery now and we will be launching our entire portfolio of beers. AB InBev has more than 500 brands across the world and we will be bringing the best of the beers to Nepal in the near future. We have already launched Fosters Gold here which is a strong beer in the mainstream core segment. Similarly, we recently launched a lager milder beer and the response has been very positive. We are seeing very good consumer attraction and very good repeats.
Nepal’s beer market as you know is dominated by one player, how do you plan to penetrate the market with your brands?
Even though there is a dominant player in the market, I think consumers are looking for wider choices. So, I think the range of choices available for Nepalese consumers are quite limited and us being the biggest beer company in the world and having this large portfolio brand, I think we have a broader choice. We are providing solutions, options, and quality beers that were not available to Nepalese consumers and that will be now. That will help us, sort of, gain attraction in the market.
How do you think Budweiser will shape Kathmandu’s Nightlife after its launch?
We have a number of associations and partnerships across the world. So the first key thing we will bring into Nepal with Budweiser is our involvement in music.
Budweiser as a brand has been involved in music culture since its inception. Since the year 1876 we have been shaping music culture in cities and countries across the world and we want to bring that here. We’re going to provide platforms for young emerging talents to showcase their talents. Bringing the music culture will obviously impact night life in that sense.
Secondly, we are also going to bring international football sponsorship. We are sponsors of FIFA World Cup, English Premier League (EPL) and La Liga. I understand that Nepali consumers love football.
I think it’s definitely an opportunity to bring them, through the sponsorship that we have, closer to the heroes, closer to the game they love so much. So these are the two things for us that we hope to bring to Nepal and hope to create that brand love with consumers.
What are Budweisers’ global associations and which ones are you planning to bring in Nepal?
Like I said, the big ones are the FIFA World Cup, EPL and La Liga. In music, our associations are more market base, more country based. We don’t have any big global associations as such, but we have a platform called BUDX.
It is our own proprietary, our own flagship music platform which exists to give young emerging talents that platform to shine. In music, we want to leverage some of the big music platforms here that we have in India and China. We sponsor some of the biggest music festivals in India like Supersonic, Sensation, and Magnetic Fields. I think we have an opportunity to bring Nepali consumers to these festivals and also to being these festivals, who are partners, to Nepal.
In China, we have similar associations with Ultra, EBC and we will see if we can bring some of these partnerships down to Nepal in the near future.
We want to bring the best of the music to Nepal, and give a platform to emerging talent. We hope consumers like and love us and drink Budweiser.
Corona has been here in Nepal for the last 4-5 years. How do you see the future prospects of Corona in Nepal going forward?
I am very ambitious and positive on the prospects of Corona. We are seeing some great attraction in the last few months. Since we started to focus aggressively on it, we’ve seen a lot more attraction for the brand. I think Nepali consumers are connecting to the whole idea of the brand of disconnection, relaxation and unwinding, and are choosing Corona for it.
The second thing is that it is a beautiful brand. A very distinctive brand that comes in a flint, clear bottle, and has a very unique ritual. I think those are assets that helped the brand differentiate and stand out and which will help the brand grow in Nepal. I think Corona is our great asset and really helps us land the brand idea. I think Nepalese consumers will love the brand and help us grow.
Corona Sunsets was one of a kind event this year in Nepal, are we going to see such events in Nepal in the future?
We did Corona Sunsets a few months back and it was very successful. The response was very positive and we will definitely bring more of such events.
What other plans do you have for Nepal?
I am very excited to launch Budweiser in Nepal in May 2020. Besides, we also want to aggressively scale some of our international super premium brands like Corona, Stella, Hoegaarden. We are looking to bring the entire portfolio of AB InBev in Nepal. So there are exciting times ahead.