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Bacardi looks to India as its talent hub

Bacardi looks to India as its talent hub

Bacardi has revealed it sees India as a major source of talent for the company moving forward. 

Global CEO Mahesh Madhavan (pictured above) told The Economic Times that India is one of its biggest talent-sourcing hubs because its managers have so much expertise in handling the country's complex alcohol regulations.

India’s alcoholic beverages industry is heavily regulated, with high excise and taxes imposed in most states. Additionally, import duties on foreign wines and spirits exceeds 150%, making them three to five times pricier than elsewhere in the world. 

When Madhavan Madhavan succeed Michael Dolan as CEO of Bacardi in April, 2018, he became the second Indian to steer a global liquor giant after Diageo appointed Ivan Menezes as CEO in 2013.

“I would have never imagined about leading such a historic company when I joined two decades ago," Madhavan said at the time. "I never saw this as a job but as my own company and believed in being a part of the family .My chairman says my role is to leave this company better and stronger for the next generation.“ 

In January 2018 Bacardi announced the internal promotion of Vijay S. Subramaniam, to Managing Director – Asia Pacific, the Middle East & Africa.

“As we continue to expand Bacardi’s portfolio of premium brands in these vast and fast-growing markets, Vijay’s keen understanding of the opportunities and complexities unique to this region, and his ability to brilliantly adapt global brands to make them locally relevant, will be vital to our continued global growth,” said Madhavan.

The company also announced the promotion of Sanjit Randhawa to Managing Director of India and Southeast Asia and Vikas Mittal as managing director of the Middle East and North Africa.

In August, Madhavan told Spirits Business that he was focussed on building stability in the company, saying Bacardi’s new ‘Do What Moves You’ campaign will “remain in place for the next 10 years”.

He added: “That’s why I keep saying that our next 10 years will be our best 10 years, because I want our teams, companies, partners and customers to know that we are going to have the same set of leaders diving the same strategies for the next decade.”

Bacardi's big hopes for India

Bacardi is among the fastest growing companies in the Indian liquor space. An International Wine and Spirits Research report said it had a CAGR of 19% over the past three years.

The company's portfolio is almost entirely skewed towards premium brands - a tough gig in a country where the bulk of all liquor sales come from low-priced alcohol.

Its revenue is a fraction of India’s largest alcoholic drinks maker, United Spirits, but, as Quartz notes: "Urban millennials with more disposable incomes are changing the way the country consumes, especially in the big cities. The younger generation is willing to spend more on better brands and experiences."

Bacardi has invested heavily in marketing events to appeal to the country's millenial drinkers. 

Anshuman Goenka, Bacardi India’s marketing head, told Quartz: "We have sort of moved into our next growth orbit by doing stuff very differently when it comes to brand building because of the cultural movements we are seeing. We have upped our understanding of pop culture and invested in such platforms in India.

"We have redefined social media marketing—for us, we have done a complete sea change. We have told ourselves, let us invest in building content that has an organic brand conversation and we can only do that if we understand pop culture and work with people who understand it."