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Published on: Nov. 15, 2021, 11:19 a.m.
Now, a 2 cal cola
  • Svami offers the largest range of non-alcoholic beverages

By Suman Tarafdar

For Svami fans (yes, the beverage brand, not a relook at the retro charms of Malgudi and its protagonist), the season brings cheer anew as the brand has launched new drinks to expand its already considerable range. It has also tied up with global luxury conglomerate LVMH to launch limited-edition drink mixers. 

In the relatively short time since Svami’s launch in 2018 with tonic waters, it has grown to be a preferred name in mixers and non-alcoholic beverages in the country. Its recent launches, 2 Cal Cola and Salted Lemonade, are both aimed at the health-conscious market. While the 2 Cal Cola possesses zero sugar, the Salted Lemonade is made with natural lemons and contains low sugar. “There has been an increasing need for an upgrade in the segments of lemonade and cola,” points out Sahil Jatana, CEO & co-founder, Svami Drinks. “These two beverages are probably the most loved and versatile dual-purpose beverages, whether as a mixer or as an RTD (Ready to Drink). We have also decided to price these cheaper than our other products to get people into our Svami universe. We see these products open more doors for us in non-metro markets and category B retail stores.” The Svami Cola and the Svami Salted Lemonade retail at Rs65.

“We want to change the way non-alcoholic beverages are perceived,” adds Jatana, who launched the brand along with Rahul Mehra and Aneesh Bhasin. “When we finally launched our non-alcoholic range of RTD beverages, the premise was that when you go out to drink or want a drink at home, why should you be limited to the same old ‘mocktails’ that have been available. When we launched with our tonic waters in 2018, we were the first to introduce flavoured tonic waters. During the pandemic we realised that more and more people were getting conscious about the calories they were consuming, hence the 3 Cal tonic water was introduced.”

According to a recent report released by ResearchAndMarkets.com, the non-alcoholic beverage market in India is rising fast due to rising awareness about the need for healthier lifestyles, rising disposable incomes and a rising number of people opting for non-alcoholic drinks with their meals. Statista predicts the market is expected to grow annually by a CAGR of 9.01 per cent during 2021-2025. Even more significantly, superior taste was the most important factor for most consumers. “Taste is key, irrespective of the drink being alcoholic or non-alcoholic,” Bhasin said earlier this year.

Svami now has 12 SKUs – five tonic waters, a ginger ale, a soda, three non- alcoholic RTDs, a lemonade and a cola. “The 3 Cal Tonic is our top seller on our website and on Amazon,” says Jatana. 

Svami has been astute in targeting the premium customer, sensing the growing potential. “We believe there is ample play in our total addressable market in India. We don’t think we are going to be offering mass products. We want to keep our products aspirational, yet not out of reach.”

Svami primarily targets consumers seeking better non-alcoholic beverage options and people who consume spirits and enjoy non-alcoholic beverages. It is also popular among the F&B community for its diverse portfolio of products. 

“We are looking at the non-alcoholic drinks market minus packaged drinking water and fruit juices,” says Jatana. “With the mass premium product range, we service Tier 1 & Tier 2 cities and Category A stores in these cities, which puts our addressable market at roughly $4 billion as on 2021. The segment is growing at about 8 per cent and expected to reach $8 billion by 2030.”  

Svami raised a fresh investment of Rs7.5 crore in a pre-Series A round of funding from a mix of institutional and individual investors in 2019. In October 2020, the start-up raised Rs6.5 crore in a bridge round leading up to a Series A round. The company closed FY21 with Rs6.2 crore revenue, says Jatana. “We are working on closing our Series A round.  We have a range of new products in the pipeline for the next two to three years.” 

Svami has had a staggered release of the portfolio since 2018. Tonic waters released in Jan 2018, ginger ale in 2019 followed by soda, 3 Cal Tonic in May 2020 and the RTD range in Nov 2020. RTDs have a 20 per cent share of revenue, and Jatana feels that they haven’t reached their full potential yet as they were released just before the second wave of Covid and haven’t had their day in the sun yet.

Svami has been available via three main channels – HoReCa, retail (general trade, modern trade, wine shops, and online for less than a year. Jatana says that pre-pandemic, “we were 70 per cent HoReCa and 30 per cent retail with a plan to go retail heavy over the next three years. However, even with the pandemic – we switched that around, we are now 70 per cent retail, 20 per cent HoReCa and 10 per cent online. Within the retail segment, we are pretty equally split between general trade and modern trade.

To reach out to its primary consumers, Svami uses a mix of online (primarily Instagram) and offline channels with relevant bar events such as India Cocktail Week. “We also have a thriving advocacy programme where we engage with bartenders on a regular basis with our team of brand ambassadors,” explains Jatana. “For example, during lockdown in 2020, we were the first F&B brand to create a contest for bartenders called ‘Superlative Cocktail League’ and gave away cash prizes to the bar community.”

Meanwhile its tie-up with LVMH is expected to bring a new level of acceptance. Inspired and designed exclusively for the Moët Hennessy portfolio in India, these bespoke mixers come as a pioneering retail innovation undertaken by an alco-bev company in India, says the conglomerate. “These curated non-alcoholic mixers have been specially crafted to be paired with Belvedere, Glenmorangie and Hennessy, to create a high-quality drinking experience for the Indian consumer, aimed at enhancing at-home consumption.”

While India continues to be a brown spirits dominated market, the fledgling space for premium non-alcoholic drinks is growing fast, with a number of players, established and start-ups, entering the space in the recent past. Carving a niche space, with a wider range of products has helped Svami establish itself, though cracking the ‘masstige’ segment could well determine its durability in a fickle, and often value-conscious domestic market.

Perfect twosome 

Svami 2 Cal Cola is India’s homegrown premium cola product, and with its launch, the brand aims to cater to the conscious consumer and be in line with changing consumer behaviour. Svami has innovated a cola that is sugar-free and has just two calories. While the 2 Cal Cola can be consumed on its own, it can also be mixed with alcohol, especially with dark spirits. It can act as a perfect mixing ingredient to master drinks such as Cuba Libres, JDs, LIITs, etc. A keto-friendly drink with zero synthetic/artificial flavours, it is the best option for guilt-free drinking. 

 Svami Salted Lemonade doubles as a drink by itself as well as a versatile mixer. It gives drinks a lemony twist and adds a layer to regular tequila, gin, vodka, rum, whiskey and beer. It can be used as lemonade mimosas and cold brew coffee lemonade. The first of its kind, the Salted Lemonade has a balanced sweet and sour taste with a hint of salt that appeals to the contemporary palate.

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