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Himani Chandna Gurtoo, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 16, 2012
Diageo, the world's largest premium drinks company, maker of iconic brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Vat 69, is now banking on India for growth.

With the US and Europe going through a rough phase, the brand expects India to enter the list of top five markets for the company in another three years.

"Indian market for us is growing at a double digit rate in the international spirits category. The market is incredibly important for our brand as every year around 19 million people enter the legal alcohol purchasing age here," said James Thompson, chief marketing officer of Diageo (Asia Pacific). http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/8/17-08-biz7.jpg

"Our investment rates in India are twice the international average because of which the group is bringing top talent - the entire global reserve brand team -  to India to understand the luxury sensibilities in the country."

British drinks giant's goal is a firmer grip on the emerging markets around the world.

"Markets including India, China, parts of South-East Asia, Africa, Turkey and Russia contributed 20% to our global revenue earlier, which has now grown to 30%," Thompson said.

While Diageo spends its cash on the emerging world, Thompson laughs off slowdown in India.

"There are not many countries that have the Indian dynamics. Indians are disappointed that their GDP is only growing at 6.7%. The countries I visit, they would bite people's arm off to have GDP growing at such numbers."

Increased importance of women in the workforce and some of them making their own alcohol choices is also opening up new set of opportunities for the company.

"To tap the new trends and openings in the market, we have launched about 6 brands in the last 12 months," said Thompson.

"Moreover, our luxury brands are growing very well here as we see the luxury market taking off really well."