With the arrival of vaccines, it seemed that we had aced the battle with Coronavirus. Little did we know that the battle is far from over when within few weeks India has begun experiencing a surge in fresh cases of coronavirus infections. Wary of the second wave of the Covid-19 wreaking havoc in 2021, the state government in many parts of the country has imposed curfews and lockdown. With local authorities wanting to prevent large human gatherings, the bars, pubs and restaurants would be the first ones to face closures. The limited or no out-of-home consumption during weekends is severely damaging the sales of the liquor industry in India. According to a report from the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies ( CIABC), the sales of Indian Made Foreign Liquor dropped by 30 percent in the first half of the fiscal year 2020. The states earn a large part of the revenue through liquor sales. To boost revenues, the high liquor consumption states such as Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu have burdened the liquor industry with high taxes. With the pandemic bringing the liquor industry almost to its knees, the industry is trying to pull its socks by exploring alternate sales channels such as e-commerce and apps.
Will the liquor industry follow the e-commerce suit?
The liquor industry, to further insulate itself from losses and maintain social distancing at the liquor shop, is considering following the e-commerce suit for online selling of liquor. It is anticipated that home delivery of liquor will expand and strengthen the distribution network of the liquorindustry.
According to a report from the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies ( CIABC), the sales of Indian Made Foreign Liquor dropped by 30 percent in the first half of the fiscal year 2020.
HipBar, a digital platform for the delivery of liquor, has partnered with Flipkart for the doorstep delivery of liquor in states like Jharkhand and Odisha. Customers can now login to the Flipkart app to place liquor orders that will be delivered by HipBar.
The excise duty of liquor is the second or third largest source of revenue to a state, however, the lockdown has left the state government to be cash strapped. To compensate for the losses, the Chhattisgarh government has launched an online platform and mobile application for the doorstep delivery of liquor. Through this government-driven initiative, people can buy liquor from the website and mobile application of Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited (CSMCL). The customers will first need to register by filling in information such as mobile number, aadhar card, and full address. The online platform, for registering a user, will verify by OTP (one-time-password). For purchasing liquor, they can select a shop of their choice, browse the liquor list and place the order.
Food aggregator apps like Swiggy and Zomato have broadened their horizons for delivery of liquor in east states such as Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, etc.
Commercial city of India, Mumbai has an app Living Liquidz which has a robust chain of retail stores that houses 1000 brands of liquor under a single roof. After getting a green signal from the government, Living Liquidz has developed a website that focuses on delivery only. Its stores are present across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, and Vashi. A customer can order from the Living Liquidz website by logging on to the website, choosing the liquor, and scheduling a delivery slot. The minimum order for delivery is Rs 1500. Once the order is placed the details of the order are sent to the nearest store that is in proximity to the customer’s address.
Mumbai’s famous Doolally, initially a brewing pub, is ramping up its business operations by selling its signature beers through its online portal. Doolally will deliver liquor if the customer is approximately 8-10 km radius from Doolally’s pub. The minimum delivery amount is Rs 800 from Doolally.
Liquor consumption patterns in times of Covid
As wedding ceremonies, birthday celebrations, weekend parties have taken a backseat in the pandemic, people have now been drinking in their homes within their close social circles and hosting smaller celebrations within the comfort of their homes. It will lead to an uptick in demand for growlers. A growler is an air-tight jug made of ceramic, glass, or aluminum that is used to transport draft beer from one place to another without compromising the beer quality.
What is in it for the liquor industry?
With fresh cases arising, we are not aware of the normalcy returning in the pubs and bars. Till then, the liquor industry in order to sustain needs to ramp their sales channels online be it through partnering with e-commerce majors like Amazon or food aggregators or create your online portal for convenient doorstep delivery of liquor. The liquor company should also keep in mind the changing preferences and tastes of consumers as the work-from-home model has led to reduced physical activities due to which they might want to keep a count on calories.