Campari, the leading aperitif brand, selling over 30 million bottles annually and part of the Campari Group from Italy, is looking at India as a big growth market. The Italian major will be undertaking an aggressive marketing and promotional campaign here. David Mouchel, regional director, Asia-Pacific, speaks to Business Standard.
What has been Campari's association with the Indian market until now?
I don't actually know when Campari started being available here in the black market, it could go all the way back to the sixties, but most people have bought Campari on trips abroad. A few years ago we got into a local bottling agreement with the UB group, but that didn't work out.
We've decided that the Italianness of Campari is of prime importance to us, so unfortunately India will never be a centre of production for us again. But this summer we signed an agreement with Focus Brands to head proactive marketing and distribution efforts in India.
How would you introduce Campari to a non-Campari drinker?
Most people here seem to know Campari as a red-coloured alcoholic drink with an infusion of herbs and fruit in it. (The exact recipe is 140 years old and still a closely guarded secret.) I actually would tell people they may not like it the first time, but by the third or fourth time you will develop a taste for it. It's the bitterness that puts you off the first time.
Although it originated as an aperitif in most European countries, it's not just that. Aperitifs have no conceptual link in Indians' minds and it greatly limits the drinking occasion so I'd rather not say Campari is an aperitif. It's a great way to start the evening but it doesn't end there.
How has Campari evolved as a brand?
Internationally, we've undergone a conscious re-think of our target audience, and that has influenced our strategies.
The bulk of our consumers have always been in the age group of above-40 but we decided the brand needed to be rejuvenated as a contemporary classic. If we want to create long-term associations, we need to attract younger drinkers with a trendy image. So, we've shifted our sport-driven marketing/branding efforts to fashion.
How do you hope to attract younger drinkers?
Besides our international association with luxury fashion, we are working on converting youth to the taste of Campari. We are proposing new combinations to them so it's not just boring old Campari and orange.
For example, we've just come up with a signature drink, Camparinha, in which basically all we've done is replace Cachaca in a standard Caipirinha with Campari. We want to provide them with an introduction to the drink without shocking them or offering polarised flavours, so we're introducing the drink into cocktails they're anyway used to.
How will you market Campari in India?
It will all have to be through word-of-mouth and below-the-line efforts. We would never do surrogate advertising because that would mean compromising on the strength of the brand. We will organise sampling evenings as often as possible.
We've also tied up with Shatbhi Basu who heads India's first professional bartending institute, STIR. She will develop signature cocktails for our Indian audience besides conducting training sessions.
What are your future plans for the Indian market?
The idea is first to reach 10,000 cases as soon as possible. The imported spirit segment is really growing.
Once our focus on marketing Campari starts reaping results, we'll turn our attention to our other two major brands we hope will become big in India - Skyy vodka and Cinzano.