The biggest Indian startup Flipkart is now owned by Walmart, an American multinational that is also one of the largest MNCs in the world. After Walmart gained a controlling stake in homegrown Flipkart, it led some to ponder whether successful Indian startups could ever resist being acquired by larger MNC’s.
Some also pondered whether Indian startups could ever gain the global clout and prestige that MNCs and large established businesses already enjoyed. While the acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart may have dashed the hopes of many patriotic Indians, they may easily look at the homegrown beverage startups living up to their potential.
Indian Beverage Startups Are Innovating And Shining
More and more young consumers in India are searching for good and different brand experiences – be it a good time, good food, good drink, good music, and good company. There are many recent examples of brands and concepts that have been successful in providing such experiences to consumers.
An exciting innovation in the alcoholic beverages space has been created by a startup which allows customers to buy a full bottle of their favourite alcoholic beverages online and then redeem them per serving at a hotel or restaurant. This means that someone who buys a bottle of whisky online for, let’s suppose INR 5K, can consume servings of it across restaurants and hotels whenever they visit such establishments.
The consumers pay only for the portion they consume by using an app. Such a concept was unimaginable some time ago, both in the minds of consumers as well as companies.
Also, the space for alcoholic beverages, particularly beer, had been until a few years, dominated by a few established brands. However, a few enterprising young people had a vision that young Indians would opt to drink a higher quality brew.
While established beers kept their offerings unchanged in taste and as brands for at least a decade, new entrants offered young Indians fresh tasting beers in attractive bottles and very engaging storytelling narrative.
One of the founders of such a beer startup was unhappy with the quality of beer available in India and decided to create a brand that young urban Indians could identify with. The key differentiators of such beers are superior taste, flavour, and quality and narratives that are easygoing and which, therefore, resonate with young Indians.
Another successful Indian startup is competing effectively with global FMCG giants like Tropicana and Real. This Indian beverage startup’s edge is that the juice, in its attractive pouches, allows every Indian who drinks it to relive childhood memories. The brand is competing effectively with larger rivals by creating nostalgia in the minds of consumers using flavours people enjoyed as children.
The beer startups and juice brand identified existing gaps and quickly moved to fill such gaps by creating products that resonated with young Indians. And they worked on both product and emotional needs of consumers.
Such startups realised that the Indian consumer has evolved greatly over just the last decade and increasingly identifies himself as a part of a global community and is able to spell out his tastes and product needs.
New Indian Brands Serve Existing Needs
Unlike older established brands, successful beer and FMCG beverage startups have crafted an elegant narrative that attracts people who want to be a part of their story. In an age of social media where millions share real-life stories online, new startup brands in the FMCG, alcoholic beverages, and beer space are attracting consumers by using a storytelling narrative and by creating products that are of exceptionally high quality.
While many established brands have been facing brand fatigue limiting their attraction to a new generation of consumers, beverage startups are reaching out to new consumers because they understand their worldview. This is why Paper Boat is sold in beautifully designed pouches and new brands sell beer in bottles, which unlike those of older beer brands, have a quirky picture on their surface that enhances the brand and tells the story of the beer inside.
Nasik based winemaker Sula Vineyards is also an Indian success story and is competing well with global wine brands, many of which have a pedigree that is centuries old.
Indian beverage startups have realised that the current generation of young Indians sees itself as cool and so consequently sees many Indians brands as cool also. Unlike the generation that came before, today young Indians don’t feel the need to purchase International products to project they are cool.
The current generation is also willing to pay extra for convenience and young beverage startups are taking advantage of this by selling Jaljira in packaged bottles, a convenience for which no earlier generation would have paid extra. Insights such as these have allowed the local beverage startups to compete effectively against their larger MNC rivals.
Today’s generation is also very clear about their choices and has their own mind, unlike previous generations which followed their parents. The consumers are far more experimentative and happy to try new brands and concepts.
The Indian Startup Success Story
Many beer startups in India were started by single individuals and since inception; many beer brands have been under the care of their founder. Some beer startups in India were founded by a few friends.
Being under the care of a single founder or a small number of multiple founders has allowed such startups to remain nimble in the face of competition and to respond rapidly to consumer preferences. Consider that one of the leading Indian beer startups started with only two variants and in a short span of fewer than four years has added three more variants of beer to its arsenal.
A leading juice startup in India was founded by four friends who together contributed to the uniqueness of the brand. All the co-founders of the company brainstormed about what kinds of products the company should make, no one person did it alone.
The small size of the company and its ability to rapidly feel the pulse of consumers allowed the company to create products of a flavour that would make them popular among young Indians. While larger rivals haven’t added variety to their product line in years, the startup’s small size and nimbleness have allowed it to add a variety of flavours to its product line which have all been well received.
A Better Worldview
While earlier generations loved everything International and perhaps thought less of Indian brands, the younger generation today is far more comfortable flaunting and using Indian brands.
This shift in the worldview of Indians will likely lead to the emergence of many more successful startups; the founders of which will be much more eager to realize the full potential of their company with themselves at its helm.