At one of India’s oldest liquor companies, digital marketing is key to “relentless modernisation”

In high spirits.
In high spirits.
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When it comes to marketing, India’s liquor industry faces unique challenges.

Given the legal restrictions on advertising alcoholic drinks, companies have to go the extra mile to reach their target audience. And with the rise of digital media, promotion of liquor products has moved from the telly screen to online platforms such as Facebook, and Instagram targeting young tipplers.

One of India’s oldest liquor companies, the 76-year-old Radico Khaitan, which counts brands like 8PM whisky, Magic Moments vodka, Contessa rum, and Old Admiral brandy in its portfolio, knows this too well.

Amar Sinha, the company’s chief operating officer says expertise in digital and data analytics is a must-have for marketing professionals in the liquor industry. In a country like India, drinking habits vary greatly, and an analytical mind is required to understand the diverse consumer preferences, according to Sinha. “The role of a digital marketer is going to be prominent, given the demographics and psychographics of our target group,” he says.

In a conversation with Quartz, Sinha spoke about how important the role of a digital marketer is in his industry and the key skills that his organisation looks for while hiring. Edited excerpts:

What is that one job that will be most important for your organisation in the near future?

Marketing liquor in the country has always been challenging owing to stringent advertising regulations. Therefore, the role of the marketing department continues to be of utmost importance in the industry. I believe this will continue to be the focus area in the future as well.

Digital marketing provides us with opportunities to encourage engagement and personalised interaction with potential customers. Going forward, the role of a digital marketer is going to be prominent considering the demographics and psychographics of our target group.

Are there any particular skills that are most important for Radico Khaitan?

Understanding the market dynamics in a country where the language, the culture and even the drinking preferences change every 100 km, is the foundation of our business. Impeccable analytical skills is what we look for in every new hire.

Do you think there is enough talent available in India vis-à-vis industry requirements?

Indians are extremely smart, with a high risk-taking capacity. They are skill-hungry and the available talent pool is keen on acquiring new skills. The talent available in India is big enough for every job that exists in the industry. This is the reason why the Indian workers are always in demand abroad. The need of the hour is job creation for talent that’s not engaged in productive activities.

Do you feel the Indian academia is doing enough to ensure that the available talent pool is employable, particularly for your industry?

Yes, absolutely. They are not only playing an important role in creating an employable talent pool, but are also helping to upskill the existing workforce. To keep pace with changing workplace demands, it is becoming increasingly important to upskill and reskill. Continuous learning is necessary to fit into the roles that are dominated by new-age technologies.

How do you keep pace with the changing technology landscape and evolving customer demands?

Amar Sinha.
Amar Sinha.

As the world moves towards digitisation, we are relentlessly modernising to keep up with the changing technology landscape. We have brought in state-of-the-art technologies at our manufacturing plants to minimise the scope of error in any process. We are operating in a rapidly changing world where digital connectivity and social media is a critical part of business operations and consumer engagement.

We are constantly enhancing our digital outreach and footprint to gain valuable analytics and insights into consumer behaviour and preferences. Digitalisation is the key to our present and future initiatives in every vertical.

How do you leverage data to offer consumers a superior product?

So far, in our industry, the basic strategy for launching a new product was due diligence (market assessment etc). With the availability of a large pool of consumer data, we are leveraging it (data) to gain better market insights. Data analytics plays a significant role in helping us assess and better understand issues such as loss or gain in market share, loyalty among buyers, and pursuing future expansion. Before launching a new product, we use data analytics to evaluate the market and determine the target audience. It also helps us develop new products that provide greater consumer value and minimises the risk of failure during the launch.

We also use data to optimise the operational aspects of our distribution chain, right from packaging to planning delivery schedules. The company gains valuable insights into consumer behaviour and preferences through data collected via social media.

What are the key initiatives the company pursues to retain and promote talent?

We, at Radico, have been investing in employees to retain them for the long-term. Employees’ career development and growth is our biggest agenda. We provide our employees opportunity for professional advancement though corporate training. Training programmes are aimed at fostering the acquisition of new skills, learning new technologies and processes. Furthering our employees’ education also helps them feel valued and invested in the company.

It is extremely important to have an open-door policy at work. Accessibility to senior management and transparent communication policies help promote employee commitment to the company. We are also flexible in our work arrangements. For instance, we encourage employees to work remotely. This can particularly help working parents balance their parental and work duties.

In Jobs of the Future series, Quartz writers speak to CXOs at some of India’s biggest companies and ask them about that one job that will be critical to their companies in the coming years.