Beer in India is quite similar to the “Sura” mentioned in the Vedas. And is supposedly the most favorite drink of God Indra. Sura has also been mentioned in various other Indian Mythologies. So, then the Sura was made of Rice or Millet, and now beer made of Wheat or Barley. No much difference, isn’t it?
The European Style Beer was introduced in India in 1716 by the British, it was Pale Ale. Since then India hasn’t looked back at all. India’s beer market has been strengthening on account of higher disposable income, low alcohol beverage preference, and local brands. Looking at the same, major distilleries and breweries around the world have now started creating their bases in India, either in the form of distribution or manufacturing.
For years now, Indians beer drinkers have been served mass-produced imported brews for the lack of options. The increase of consumers has now got in a new class of beer enthusiasts who have tapped the market with their own homegrown brands. They attract the young crowd with taste, packaging, and competitive prices. Most of these have a loyal fan base. One such brand is Medusa Beverages. Avneet Singh, the Founder says that the idea of Medusa came up to serve the young lot or the millennial consumers with a new taste. Medusa is based in Gurdaspur. The following are the excerpts with Avneet Singh, Medusa Beverages Pvt. Ltd.
Tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey and your learnings from it.
There were a lot of lessons which I learned in my journey. As an entrepreneur, I am evolving each passing day and during this course, I have learned a lot about the industry. One of my biggest lessons is that you have to be a differentiator, the one which serves the product as per the taste of the consumers. Consumer study and deep knowledge of the market are very necessary to exist in a throat-cutting industry like this.
After an interesting journey as an entrepreneur, what made you look at Beer for your next venture?
We make beer better. Medusa beer aims to leave a lasting impact. The energy and passion that goes into making it defines it as the perfect brew for creating a fun, light-hearted atmosphere. To leave you with a taste you are sure to remember, medusa beer is made using the finest, freshest ingredients one can find. We import the best quality hops from Germany and our barley malt is lovingly made right here at home. The rich taste of our beer will make you stop in your tracks and savor every sip. Our beer is crafted to deliver what very few others do- an experience. You deserve a time of relaxation and enjoyment, of vibrancy and liveliness; and nothing can provide you with that except the refreshing, one of a kind taste of a chilled medusa beer.
Did you have any guidance through this journey in the alcohol beverage sector?
I started to work alongside my studies in the domain of multi-level-marketing way back in his tenth grade. Coming from an affluent background, throughout my journey received full support from his father to fulfill his professional pursuits. After my higher secondary studies, I enrolled in B. Arch studies and enjoyed the freedom that came with collegiate life. However, soon enough I realized that studying architecture wasn’t my calling at this juncture, with the savings from my last job and with funding of two lakhs from my father, started ‘Bella peau’, which sold skincare products. To my dismay, the project failed. With a depleting interest in studies, I started my own food and drinks café that did not pick up. With one year left to finish B.Arch. studies, I took the bold step of quitting college. After four months of struggle, I managed to get the license to start a liquor store in Delhi. With the sales picking up, in 2017, I decided to enter into manufacturing and create my own brand ‘Medusa’.
When you started with Medusa Beverages Pvt Ltd, How did you market the brand and the products vs how would you look at doing so today?
The buzz was created by hosting events and using a digital platform to reach the masses. Even today Digital presence plays a significant role and helps reach the right target audience.
What do you think about the current situation of the market? Is this the right time for expansion?
No, one should wait till the pandemic is over completely.
Has the COVID situation made any change in the way the market responds to Alcohol beverages?
The alcohol and beverage industry has had its reasonable part of obstacles in terms of growth, sustainability, or the transformation in the consumption pattern from pubs to the living room. In the third phase of the lockdown, the sale of alcohol was resumed though the sales of beers have been significantly low as people changed their preferences to buying liquors with more alcohol quotient as opposed to a beer which is low on its alcohol proportion.
After the initial lockdown, Unlock one was a little tumultuous for liquor in Delhi. How was that for your brand?
In India, the alcoholic beverages were once considered as a recession resilient industry is now facing its declined sales or no sales resulting in major losses because of the fact that it does not fall under the category of essential commodities. The industry is constantly witnessing losses due to high fixed costs, cash crunch, imposed excise duty which needs to be paid in advance, and inventory losses which are among the biggest concern. Medusa Beverages has paid in advance the excise duty which will be a great loss apart if the beer gets expired in a bonded warehouse. Apart from this the products in the factory will come to expiry or probably be expired when the lockdown will be over so that will be a stock loss for us. But the outbreak of Coronavirus will BE unable to deter people’s love for alcoholic beverages. Overall consumption of Alcohol will not go down post lockdown. However, the Alco Bev industry is expected to bounce back from the overall impact of the virus despite lower or no footfalls in restaurants and bars. It was expected that the alcoholic beverage industry will be facing rising demands post lockdown. Beer has always offered a chance to socialize, and once again we would help people accept the usual routine of life post fighting COVID 19.
What is your advice for companies that are looking to start in the AlcoBev space in India?
Hire and tap the market wisely. Every entrepreneur should tap the market and learn about the Indian consumers and their preferences when it comes to pricing and value for money, the best way to learn is to taste, taste, and taste the beer. There are a lot of smart people out in the industry and one must socialize and exchange thoughts as we all like to share our knowledge and passion for beer.
What were the biggest hurdles through your journey, and how did you overcome them?
Beer is the world’s oldest beverage, possibly dating back to the 6th millennium BC. It is also the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. The biggest challenges in the growth of the beer industry in India are heavy regulations, import duties across states, ban on advertising, and distribution of beer in 28 different states. In some states, distribution is partially organized and in some government acts as a distributor and fair it through their own channels. Thus, distribution is a crucial challenge in the beer industry and it’s becoming a hindrance in mounting their reach.
As your products are available only in Delhi, Punjab, UP, Chandigarh, and Chattisgarh, is there a plan to make your products available across the country any time soon?
We are planning to expand the business in Pan India. Post lockdown we are planning to launch one of our new variants post studying the needs and wants of the market. Since consumption and purchasing, the trend will change massively due to COVID 19.
Do you have any further expansion plans in the works?
After achieving the goal of availability in 5 cities Delhi, UP, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, and Punjab planning to add 2 more states in near future. Apart from that, we aim the PAN India presence
Has your marriage changed your perspective on work and personal life?
My marriage has resulted in turning me into a more positive person. Also has taught me how to do work-life balance. Now I make more time for my family and balance my work as well.
Just on a whim, what would be your dream car?
Would you consider yourself a Bike person or a car person first?
Who would you consider to be your Favourite Competitor? (The brand you are most excited to compete with)
In Addition, did the special fee imposed on Alco Bev affect sales in the recent months?
Pandemic did affect the business, but now everything is coming back to normal and the sales will also take back the track in the days to come.
What is your view on the market for Alco Bev in the upcoming year?
Alco bev industry will grow in the times to come. If we take this year as a base year the sales will be maximized in the next year. The consumer preference has changed and the beer industry will be more preferred drink next year and the sales will shoot up.
What was your motivation behind getting into the logistics space?
The Alco beverage and FMCG industry supply chain plays a significant role. Good Logistics in place helps smooth functioning of the work. We entered into logistics to manage our supply chain as well as provide good services to other companies as well.
You have diversified your offerings by entering into association with Fashion Retail and Apparel. Please do tell us more about this.
We are working on it to help our business grow and expand into different trades altogether.
How does Apparel and fashion help with an Alco Bev brand?
It helps in expanding the business in general and makes the most of the brand name.
What is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for you? (What is your ultimate goal in life and business?)
My Ultimate goal professionally is to take Medusa Pan India and be a National Player in the Beer Industry. Personally, my goal is to live a content life and enjoy my life while working hard to strive for great success.