B9 Beverages, the makers of India’s first bottled craft beer Bira 91, has forayed into merchandising and plans to get over 3 percent of its revenues from it by 2020. The Delhi-based alcoholic beverage player has rolled out an array of products such as growlers, glasses, mugs, ice-bucket, apparel and collectibles, and will collaborate with other lifestyle brands to roll out limited edition of merchandise on its platform.
“We will be leveraging the merchandising platform to do some interesting collaborations,” says Ankur Jain, founder and chief executive officer of B9 Beverages. The kind of space the brand occupies in consumer’s life today, he reckons, can be extended by taking the brand into other aspects of their lifestyle.
Founded in 2015, the Sequoia-backed beer brand raised $50 million in May this year, taking its overall funding to over $100 million. The third round of investment, led by Belgian investment firm Sofina that counts Flipkart, Byju's and Practo among its investments, reportedly valued the beer startup at around $210 million. With the global craft beer market projected to reach over $500 billion by 2025, the homegrown beer brand has been beefing up its overseas presence over the last two years.
For the March ended 2018 fiscal, B9 Beverages reportedly posted Rs 165 crore in revenue, up from Rs 30 crore during the previous fiscal.
The move to enter into merchandising, reckon brand experts, is timely. Brand merchandise, points out Harish Bijoor, who runs an eponymous brand consultancy firm, is ‘merry-ware’ and adds to the allure of a brand. “Though brands usually wait for a cult status before stepping into merchandising, Bira 91 seems to be turning turtle that thought,” he says. In many ways, this is forcing the cult-feel rather than waiting for cultism to fall in place on its own, he adds.
Merchandising by the beer brand, Bijoor contends, is more about creating all those fun accoutrements around the brand rather than looking at monetizing the brand deeper or wider. “One will feed the other,” he says, adding that the brand has little to lose if the gambit doesn’t pay. “The market is young, fickle and forever in search of new allure,” he says. If bits merchandise can whet that appetite, it will succeed in a fun and meaningful manner. “If not, it shall be another brand-merchandise shot in the dark,” he adds.