Shah Rukh Khan Jr. & a devil-may-care bet on premium liquor

Khan and his partners have launched Slab Ventures, a Dutch-based luxury lifestyle collective that has joined the local branch of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world’s largest brewer, to distribute and market the product in India and the world markets .

Slab Ventures will also launch more products in other premium consumer segments, including beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, apparel and accessories, and host experiential events that appeal to the nation’s affluent consumers.

AB InBev India, which sells Budweiser and Corona beer brands, and Slab will also partner to sell more spirit brands, including whisky. In 2023, Slab will also bring its vodka brand to other markets in Asia, Europe and North America.

Khan, 25, said the business idea came about after Singh, Khan and Blagoeva, all family friends turned business partners, met in Germany in 2018 and discussed the gap in India’s premium and luxury goods and services market.

“We thought there was a kind of emptiness in the current space. And when there’s a void, there’s an opportunity, and I think business is all about opportunity,” Khan, who recently announced his directorial debut, said in an interview in Mumbai last week. Khan is a graduate of the University of Southern California.

“The thought was to kind of combine a high quality, youthful disruptive vision and cool aesthetic and bring it under one roof, and in doing so appeal to the more mature, discerning consumers as well as the younger generation,” he said. .

Four years after seeing the opportunity in premium products, the trio released D’yavol, a premium vodka imported from Poland. D’yavol, which translates to devil, is available in Maharashtra on 5,000, as well as Goa on 4,000 and Karnataka on 6,500. The brand will soon be available in Delhi and in the top cities of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal and Telangana. It will compete with Bacardi’s Gray Goose and LVMH’s Belvedere.

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India is one of the world’s fastest growing markets for alcoholic beverages, with an estimated market size of $52.5 billion as of 2020. According to ICRIER, a think tank, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8 between 2020 and 2023 %. ,

However, vodka remains a relatively small category in India. That is because, historically, brown spirits such as whisky, cognac and dark rum have been major contributors to the total alcoholic beverage market in India, accounting for more than 90% of all volumes of Indian Foreign Liqueur (IMFL) . White spirits such as vodka and gin, on the other hand, accounted for 3.6% of total Indian-made foreign liquor volumes. The market for imported vodka is even smaller. However, the CAGR for imported vodka (2021-26) stands at 7.2%, while the ultra-premium segment is growing at 17.8%, according to estimates from the industry organization IWSR.

India’s liqueur market is rapidly becoming premium, meaning consumers are generally moving to better-tasting spirits. The move is also in line with AB InBev’s global ‘Beyond Beer’ agenda, with the brewer expanding into categories beyond beer.

For AB InBev, the partnership with Slab Ventures is seen as a multi-category and beverage approach along with some related issues, said Kartikeya Sharma, president of India and Southeast Asia, AB InBev.

“The move is with a clear prospect of building a globally acceptable and global brand portfolio. Given India and its size of the spirits (market), it is of course the second largest market, but with a significant advantage for premiumization opportunities,” said Sharma.

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D’yavol will be aggressively marketed in premium bars and restaurants and in 4,000 to 5,000 premium liquor stores.

In 2021, AB InBev’s global Beyond Beer business grew by more than 20%, generating revenue of $1.6 billion in FY21. In fact, it has recently made its way into India’s spirits with the launch of locally blended and bottled whiskey under the Budweiser Magnum Double Barrel brand.

In India, Sharma said, the company aims to derive at least 5-7% of the company’s sales from its “Beyond Beer” portfolio, which includes zero-beer varieties, white and brown spirits, as well as non- alcoholic beverages for three years. up to four years.

Khan said Slab’s premise is to engage in “a bunch of things” to cater to aspiring Indian consumers who are increasingly looking for the latest sneaker “drops” while also being exposed to emerging trends globally .

“Sometime early next year there will be a clothing branch. It will be brought to consumers as a limited edition, capsule collection and made available through ‘drops’ in the web store,” said Khan, who wore a sweatshirt from Italian luxury label Off-White.

The clothing collection will hopefully hit the market in March-April next year.

“Everything we’re going to do, whether it’s in the beverage industry or any of the other verticals, apparel, accessories, it’s all going to fit into the luxury segment. So it will also apply to all spirits,” said Blagoeva, who previously worked at a consulting firm, and in the pharmaceutical, automotive and fashion industries.

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