After nearly two and a half months of stringent lockdown in India, the central government of India announced Lockdown 5.0 from June 1, with phase 1 of the initiative launched on June 8. In the purview of Unlock 1.0, malls, restaurants, and religious places were allowed to re-open in various states, except in containment zones, after being cleaned and provisions for adherence to social distancing made. Although different states are following different approaches to maintaining social distancing, nearly all state governments have made it mandatory for these outlets to have hand sanitizers dispensers and thermal screening provisions at the entrance.

Although many public places have reopened now in India, bars and pubs have been kept out of the ambit of Unlock 1.0. Besides, even when these outlets are allowed to re-open, consumers may still be sceptical about visiting such places as it generally involves close interactions with other people. This represents a gap in the market for celebratory and social occasions, as consumers look for ways to “bring the bar home”. Consequently, spirit-based ready-to-drink cocktails currently have limited exposure in India, which could present an opportunity for existing alcohol brands to capitalize on this cautionary behaviour and create a new target audience.

Currently, the spirits market is set on a downwards trajectory in India, as a result of the challenges COVID-19 has highlighted. Manufacturers may be able to offset this somewhat by targeting the at-home consumption occasions with new RTD cocktails. Although malls and restaurants throughout the country are allowed to open at 50% seating capacity, as of the second week of June some Indian states such as Telangana will also be granting permission to pubs and bars to resume operations. The general concept of pubs where adherence to social distancing can prove to be difficult can create uncertainty in the minds of cautious consumers even when all states reopen bars/pubs. The existence of RTD cocktails can recreate a party-atmosphere at-home for those consumers who prefer to interact only with known people rather than going to pubs, which also consists of proximity with strangers. This provides opportunities for brands to not just provide flavours associated with food-service at-home but also to target those consumers intending to lower their alcohol intake by opting for alcoholic drinks with low ABV. Presently in India, apart from fruit-flavoured breezers, no brands are offering RTD cocktail options, which present alcoholic brands with potential opportunity to expand their product offerings.

Due to coronavirus outbreak, *45% consumers in India agree to spend significantly more/ slightly more time/ all day, every day on socializing with friends/family at home than before, showcasing that homes have become hubs for social gatherings and sharing consumption occasions. Although cocktail mixes from brands such as &Stirred and Lounge Myx are already available in India, the proportion in which the spirits should be added to recreate a pub-like flavour experience may not be achievable each time by the consumer. Preparing a variety of cocktails with different spirit-base also requires people to separately purchase multiple alcoholic beverages, which can be viewed as an additional task. Due to this factor, alcoholic beverage companies with RTD cocktails in their portfolio can benefit by providing convenient solutions that offer diverse options for parties at-home.

*GlobalData’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker Consumer Survey Results: Week 10 – India – slightly more/significantly more/all day more responses combined

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