How the ready-to-drink company plans to sell over a million bottles this year and the growing space for mocktails in India
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The ready-to-drink market in India is moving beyond colas and fruit juices. Once dominated by giants like Pepsi and Coca Cola, the segmentation of the ready-to-drink market has grown exponentially since brands like Paperboat showed the way. Founded a little over a year ago in Mumbai, Mixtale is yet another startup that has launched different variants in the mocktail space with drinks like Mojito, LIIT etc. The brand’s drinks do not contain caffeine or alcohol and are marked safe for children as well, thereby increasing their consumer base considerably. Living Foodz sat down for a chat with founder commerce graduate-turned-founder to talk about his company and ambitions. Excerpts from the interview:

1. Tell us a little bit about Mixtale?

The idea behind Mixtale was to bring out the experience of a party or just a social gathering which we have always enjoyed at a bar or at a restaurant or by the poolside at the comfort of your home. Mixtale gives consumers the convenience of having mocktails straight from the bottle. To make a cocktail, just add the relevant alcohol. Our classic flavours of mocktails and mixers are a tribute to the fun side of life.

2. Tell us about your offshoot brand Spicetale

Spicetale flavours were very obvious to us, what I mean by that is that for years these drinks have been made in different parts of India at home, nukkads, dhabas, Udipi restaurants etc. We just thought of providing them in bottles, which will give a consistent taste and look for all the consumers.

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3. How did you come up with the five specific variants of beverages under Mixtale

Mixtale flavours have been very clearly thought out. We did a small research with bars and restaurants to understand the highest consumed mocktails by consumers and that brought us to our top 3: Mojito, Blue Curacao and LIIT (Long Island Iced Tea, by the way, has no reference with any teas). Tonic water, on the other hand, has an interesting origin. It was used by British colonials in India as medication against malaria. Since then it has evolved as a mixer to make cocktails and now it is also used by coffee drinkers with a drink called Espresso Tonic. Ginger Ale was our next best choice since you can sip it directly or use it as a mixer.

4. What has the response so far been like?

The response has been phenomenal. We feel elated as we have completed more than 15 months in the ready-to-drink space and we are glad to see the response. Recreational beverages are finally making their way into India as consumers’ demands are moving towards more of Functional and recreational RTD Beverages from the regular beverages and syrups. We can say this with a lot of confidence on the basis of the feedback we get from consumers whilst interacting with them during events, store promotions and tasting session.

5. Which beverage is the most profitable/ popular and which beverage variant is the least popular? Why?

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There is not only one single profitable/popular beverage that we can pin point, however Ginger Ale, Tonic Water, Mojito and Jeera Masala are our bestsellers as on today. However, everyone is really excited to try LIIT in the non-alcoholic form. Other flavours also do well and bringing awareness about them is on top priority.

6. Tell us about your distribution strategy?

When we kick- started the business, we did not get any distributors on board as the brand was new, in fact no one called it a brand if I may say so. To get distributors on board was by far the biggest challenge. That’s when we decided to take this head-on and started delivering ourselves. Once Mixtale started getting visibility at stores, bars, flights, e-commerce platforms etc., that’s when distributors started approaching us and now we have a distribution model like any other FMCG brand. We started with one distributor in Mumbai in the month of November 2017 and now we have five in Mumbai, one in Bangalore and are expanding in Pune, Chandigarh and Delhi.

7. What were some of the challenges you faced before and during the launch of Mixtale beverages?

We have been self-funded so far and are therefore bootstrapped. Hence, one of the major challenges we face is an obvious one, which is of marketing and branding & also I think to bring about a general awareness of what Mixtale is all about. The other challenge is to find the right team who would work with the same passion as us to build the business. Lastly logistics and timely delivery is still a problem, and hopefully as the infrastructure develops in India, these things will also start to be less of a challenge.

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8. What is the market of ready-to-drink mocktails in India? What is the future growth?

I would like to answer this question in a different manner. When we entered 15 months ago, there was a big gap with no major player in the market, however now after 15 months we have a lot of known brands who have started to enter the RTD space that validates our idea.  I believe that this this section waiting for to explode.

9. Which parts of India serve as your biggest market?

In terms of geographies it is the metros and Tier 1 and 2 cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Goa that are our biggest markets. We have started expanding into Bangalore, Chandigarh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Pune in the second year of operations now.

10. What kind of tie-ups have you worked out so far? What is the response on that front?

We have tied up with some big names in the aviation industry, local QSR restaurants such as Main land China, Oh Calcutta, Rude Lounge, Café New York etc and café chains like Coffee by Di Bella. The response has been encouraging in terms of feedback and repeat orders that we’ve got so far.

11.What is the average number of bottles sold this year and what are your targets for the current year?

On an average we sold ~300,000 bottles in FY18 and our target is to sell 1.4 mn bottles in FY19.

12. Tell us about your competition, in terms of brands as well as perception of ready-to-drink mocktails?

Schweppes has been one of the pioneers of Tonic Water in India. Now we have some of the other known Indian brands who have entered the Tonic water market. In the ready-to-drink space, Dabur has made its entry and we have been hearing of some other syrup players who are looking to enter the space as well. In the case of Jeera Masala, there are one or two very big but local players who are major players. For LIIT and Ginger Masala we do not have any competition that we know of as of now.

13. Are you planning to add any more variants to the line-up? If yes, by when?

Yes. Nimboo Paani in the Spicetale Range and Pink Lemonade, Ginger Beer, Iced Tea, Flavoured Tonic water under the Mixtale banner is on the cards.

14. What are your immediate plans for the brand?

As a startup in the FMCG space with all the biggies around us we have been able to clock revenues of Rs 5 million in our first year of operations despite being bootstrapped with a small team of seven members. Right now, we are on the verge of closing our first round of funding that will give us a big boost in terms of marketing and awareness of our brand.

 

 

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