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Bira goes Boom; UB plays soft

Kingfisher maker rolls out non-alcoholic soft drink; rival bets big on strong beer

Rajiv Singh
Published: Mar 13, 2019 12:05:47 PM IST
Updated: Mar 13, 2019 12:11:24 PM IST

United Breweries (UB), India’s biggest beer maker, is rolling out soft drink brand Radler across India, after launching it in Gujarat and Karnataka last October. Billed as a 100 percent natural drink that contains 30 percent less sugar than carbonated soft drinks, Radler is trying to woo health-conscious Indians with its blend of fresh barley malts and natural lemon juice. “UB is addressing new consumers. Malt-based non-alcoholic beverage is growing fast in Europe and we are pioneering the effort in India,” Ramesh Viswanathan, chief new business officer of UB, said last October.  

Kingfisher’s premium rival, Bira, too is wooing a different set of consumers hooked to ‘strong’ beers.

B9 Beverages—the maker of India’s first bottled craft beer Bira 91—forayed into the mass beer market with its sub-brand Boom. “Boom will compete against Kingfisher Strong and Tuborg Strong,” says Ankur Jain, founder and chief executive officer of B9 Beverages. The company, he adds, is expanding its production footprint five-fold to 2 million cases per month from the current 350,000 barrels.

“Mass brands will attempt to make niche offerings, and niche brands will go mass,” says Harish Bijoor, founder of an eponymous branding consultancy firm. “It’s also a good way to de-focus competitive pressure.”  

(This story appears in the 29 March, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)