It is early on a Friday morning and Ankur Jain is already bustling about, rushing from meeting to meeting……
For the last few weeks, the 34-year-old has been fending off queries from admirers of Bira91 on phone and Twitter, with the same answer that one usually hears from a customer care number: “We are working to solve this issue. Thanks for your patience.” “We never thought we would be selling so much beer so soon and the manufacturing couldn’t keep up,” Jain admitted.
Launched quietly last year, Bira91 has silently, and through word of mouth, become a popular brand name, at least in the metros. It comes in two variants, a low-bitterness wheat beer called Bira White, and an extra hoppy craft lager, Bira Blonde.
While Bira Blonde retails in Delhi for Rs 80 for a 330 ml pint, the White variant is available for Rs 100. This is cheaper than many premium beers like Kingfisher Ultra and the Belgian Hoegaarden, but twice as expensive as the market leaders, the many strong beers such as Kingfisher Strong and Tuborg. Indeed, eight out of 10 beers sold in India are strong beers, typically with 8-9% of alcohol content, while Bira is a mild lager with 4.2% alcohol.
But all this doesn’t worry Jain. He says the company is focusing on the urban Indian consumer and that means taste is a much bigger concern than price point.
Microeconomics of Indian beer market. Will be really interesting to figure out..