Rupees 20 crore, for a company's turnover, may sound small -- but not for a company that's in a market segment that is in itself small. Indage India Ltd is still the largest wines and champagne player in India, in spite of its small turnover.
Heard of wines called Riviera? Marquise de Pompadour? Joie? -- that's Indage.
Over the past year, this company has been doing a lot of on-ground activity to expose Indians to wines and champagnes. For that is the root cause of the smallness of this segment --consumers do not have much of an idea of, or exposure to, these products.
The latest from the house of Indage is still to come. The brand has already been launched, but you can't buy it or order it anywhere.
Puzzled? Intrigued? That's precisely the idea, as far as Indage is concerned. Grand Cuvee de Millennium, a super-premium pink champagne, will be the company's millennium offering. Naturally, therefore, it wants this product to sell closer to year 2000.
However, for a product that will come at Rs 2,500 for 750 ml and Rs 4,000 for 1.5 litres, a build-up is essential, or it will lose out on the New Year buying opportunity. "So we launched Grand Cuvee de Millennium on 26 February 1999 to create hype, curiosity. Channel selling will start only in October.So, when the champagne is made available, expectations will already be high and, hopefully, acceptance will come much faster,' says Hans Raj Ahuja, vice president at Indage.
Highly selective sampling has already happened across New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. Next on the agenda, before channel release: the Rajasthan, Goa, Pune and Agra, markets, where the tourist traffic has been high and champagne sales higher.
Simultaneously, displays have been set up for the champagne at locales where Indage has done promotions for its other products -- mainly five-star food festivals, fashion shows, exclusive other-product launches. For example, at a new restaurant-cum-music shop called The Grove, in south Mumbai's Eros theatre building, which was inaugurated in early June 1999. Or during the relaunch of James Ferreira's collection at the end of this month.
The company is currently building up a list of exclusive retailers to sell the new champagne. "Our focus will be on retail sales," says Ahuja. "We will select only those shops that are capable of handling high value products and have a good database of customers.' Though Indage is still working out the number of stores this approach will involve, it is aiming to sell between 40,000-50,000 bottles by January next year.
Sounds like a rather ambitious number to be sold in just four months -- but Ahuja is looking at New Year buying for celebration and gifting. Surprisingly, the company is not looking at any major sales out of five-star hotels, though there are inquiries already coming in. "With five-stars, we are looking at tying in mostly on their millennium-related promotions. For instance, the complimentary bottle in the hotel room as a special millennium offer.' Or special millennium events in the hotels where the champagne could be served. Indage will probably work out special rates with the hotels for these occasions.
Ahuja doesn't expect the 1.5-litre Grand Cuvee de Millennium to really sell at restaurants, "but for private celebrations, there's good opportunity. The consumer set we are targeting wants to state something about itself through the products it serves.'
The activity towards October is in full swing already, and pleasant surprise!…some five-star hotels have already started sending in inquiries for the champagne, for their own gifting purposes. Now those are the kind of corporate sales Indage would be really happy with. But retail sales are what Grand Cuvee de Millennium is really gunning for, for the turn of the year, century, millenium, and beyond.