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With low sugar, low calorie, hard seltzer is a great substitute to beer

The alcobev industry is a sunshine industry in India and this decade we will witness amazing creations from entrepreneurs in the space

Anish Reddy, Founder, Pursue
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Anish Reddy, Founder, Pursue

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Pursue is a novel hard seltzer brand developed in a global collaboration by top notch flavour specialists, boutique design firms and progressive product artists between Miami, continental Europe, and Western India. The hard seltzer offers four variants inspired by a marriage of global and quintessentially local Indian flavours – mosambi and mint, strawberry and rose, peach and white tea, and mango and chilli. In an interview with Bizz Buzz, Anish Reddy, founder, Pursue says, "Hard seltzer is a new category in India, but as with craft beer and gin that we are seeing today, we truly believe that hard seltzer will be a great substitute to beer for people to enjoy."

What was the rationale of entering the alcobev industry with Pursue hard seltzers?

Living in the US got me introduced to hard seltzer and it became an awesome drink for all of us friends in Miami to have. When Covid hit, I decided to quarantine in India with my family and that's when I realised there isn't any hard seltzer in India. Given that my family business is in the alcobev space, I decided to start a hard seltzer brand that everyone can enjoy like everyone else in the US.

What is your family background in the alcobev industry?

The core part of our family business has always been involved in the alcobev space. We have now been part of alcobev manufacturing for almost 50 years. As bottlers for Diageo India, erstwhile United Spirits, we have distilleries in almost all the southern States as well as Goa.

Can you give details of the families' various companies in the alcobev industry?

My family operates nine distilleries across South India and Goa. Apart from contract manufacturing Diageo India brands such as McDowell's No.1, Royal Challenge, etc. we also manufacture our own volume driven brands in the whiskey, brandy, and rum category. Apart from this we also make Pursue hard seltzer out of our Goa facility.

What is your perception of the Indian alcobev market and in particular the hard seltzer market?

India is an amazing market to be in for F&B. Today people really want high quality food and beverage products and we at Pursue pride ourselves on delivering the utmost quality by providing the best ingredients in our hard seltzer. The alcobev industry is a sunshine industry in our country and this decade we will witness amazing creations from entrepreneurs in the space. Hard seltzer is a new category in India but as with craft beer and gin that we are seeing today, we truly believe that hard seltzer will be a great substitute to beer for people to enjoy. We deliver the same amount of alcohol per pint as beer but with under 1 per cent sugar and under 110 calories.

What is the thinking behind the brand name Pursue, the price point, the packaging, the packaging size, and the four variants?

Freedom is something we care deeply about. Freedom is so important to each and every one of us in our own ways. We wanted to build our brand about freedom of choice and celebrating the Pursuit of one's dreams. We found our drink to be super versatile, something that can be consumed at any time of the day. Easy to drink and relatively guilt free, hard seltzer itself is a break from the usual molds, hence tying into the freedom concept quite seamlessly. Hence we came up with the name Pursue, where each flavour tells a story. For example, strawberry and rose promotes the Pursuit of love. The back of our caps has the messaging. Price points vary from State to State given the taxation laws, we are priced at Rs 100 in Goa and Rs 230 in Maharashtra.

Now that the placement of the brand has been done at various outlets, what are the marketing initiatives you plan to get customers to try the brand and also repeat sales?

We are taking a three pronged approach – availability in stores, bars/restaurants and events. We want to promote the right events that suit us best and from there be available in the best watering holes in each city. While we cover these two areas, in-store branding is paramount for us since we create touch points at each of the three avenues for our customers. We take over bars and restaurants for brunches and nights to promote and get people to enjoy Pursue. We also like to do distillery tours for people to come to see how we make our hard seltzer.

With the launch in Goa and Mumbai, what is the strategy to take the brand pan-India?

We are available now in Goa, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Jaipur, Pondicherry, and soon in Pune. We definitely are looking at pursuing Hyderabad next.

Which States are you confident of getting the best response and why?

We have seen that each State has its own characteristics but all in all, Pursue has been getting a great response in the big metros. The first metro we launched in was Bangalore and the next was Delhi. Both cities responded positively towards Pursue and now Pursue has found its new home in Mumbai.

As this is a new category, how do you plan to grow the category and the brand?

The biggest challenge for us is category building. Brand building is one thing, but building and promoting a new alcobev category is a whole new level of marketing. We first had to make sure we create a high quality, easy to drink yet a full-strength product. We are super confident about our product, which now gives us the strength to champion and create a new hard seltzer category in India.

In a very competitive alcobev market what will make your brand stand out in the marketplace?

Yes, the market is super competitive however, we are creating a new category. We are not the tenth craft beer or tenth homegrown gin brand in India. We are one of the first hard seltzer entrants into the country and we have a long term approach towards building and championing not only Pursue, but also the hard seltzer category in India.

Vincent Fernandes
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