NEW DELHI/ BANGALORE: The odourless, colourless drink vodka, the fastest growing segment in India's spirits mart, has found a new flavour. Bollywood is taking centrestage in India’s vodka battles. The past one month has seen as many as three leading vodka brands signing up with Bollywood’s hottest stars at astronomical rates.
The second largest domestic spirits marketer, Radico Khaitan, is upping the stake to a new high. It has roped in Hrithik Roshan in a mega endorsement deal for its Magic Moments vodka brand.
This follows industry leader United Spirits’s move to bring Zayed Khan for endorsing the largest-selling Indian vodka, White Mischief. For USL, Khan is its second film star – the spirits company already has Shilpa Shetty endorsing Romanov vodka.
In recent weeks, USL and Shilpa Shetty extended the association not withstanding British media attacks for endorsing a vodka brand after taking a stance against drinks in the celebrity Big Brother Show.
Diageo’s one-year-old Shark Tooth Vodka has been riding on rising star Shiney Ahuja, who is breaking into mainstream Bollywood after recent releases like Metro. With the vodka volume booming, the spate of big-ticket endorsement deals is an indication that the industry is placing big bets on the segment.
While Bollywood’s association with the liquor industry is as old as Dharmendra or even earlier, most of the ties in the past were linked to whiskies. As the vodka club mainly targets the India’s youth aged below 35 years, a demographic segment with high disposable income and aspirational lifestyle, the spirits majors are lining up resources in building blockbuster brands with a significant profit pool for the future. The vodka consumption is reportedly growing at 20-25% annually on a still small base of around 3.8 million cases.
Signing up Hrithik is part of a relaunch exercise Radico is undertaking for Magic Moments, which also includes upgraded packaging. “We chose Hrithik because it’s a personality fit; his energy and style fits well with the brand’s personality,” said Abhishek Khaitan, MD, Radico Khaitan.
Radico’s Magic Moments Vodka is being projected as one of the company’s key money spinners going into the future. The brand is expected to emerge with volume sales of over a million cases in 2008, making it probably the fastest Indian vodka to touch the million mark. The company has invested in a new plant in Bahadurgarh near Delhi for what it claims is a breakthrough packaging technology.
This is an economic story about Bollywood actors endorsing vodkas, but I just like it for the names of the brands there (highlighted in yellow).