During the initial COVID-19 lockdown in India (25 March-3 May 2020), the Indian government deemed alcoholic drinks to be non-essential and as such the sale and production of these products was prohibited during this period. The closure of on-trade outlets for much of the year also limited social occasions, during which many people had been increasingly consuming RTDs prior to the onset of the pandemic.
RTDs in India are primarily being targeted at younger consumers, especially women, of legal drinking age in metro and tier 1 cities that are looking for a low alcohol drink when socialising. Young adults are increasingly looking for drinks which they can enjoy with friends, rather than to get a buzz from drinking.
With on-trade outlets closed for much of the year and with most consumers keen to follow social distancing measures, there were few opportunities for social engagements outside the home during 2020. This placed an increased focus on the off-trade after the lockdown and the ban on sales of alcohol drinks was lifted.
Following a devastating second wave of COVID-19 in April 2021 India was forced into reintroducing a range of measures to contain its spread, including further lockdowns. RTDs had been expected to rebound strongly in 2021, but with the second wave striking during India’s summer months this will be a significant obstacle to growth.
It is hoped that with the rolling out of India’s vaccination programme it will be able to bring COVID-19 under control, which would allow the country to enter a period of normalisation. As consumer confidence returns younger consumers are likely to be keen to start socialising again, with this demographic being key to the recovery and growth of RTDs.
Spirit-based RTDs benefit from being perceived as a lighter option than stronger spirit-based drinks. Moreover, with spirit-based RTDs continuing to account for the main offer within the category, new varieties of RTDs, such as those including vodka as a base, continued to gain in popularity in India towards the end of the review period.
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This report originates from Passport, our RTDs research and analysis database.
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