BANGALORE: Beer brands in India, faced with slowing volume growth because of a wetter than usual monsoon, are increasing promotional expenditure in an attempt to boost sales, a leading industry figures has said. 

Samar Singh Sheikhawat, senior vice-president, marketing at United Breweries, told Livemint that the brewer had increased its marketing spend and was looking to its higher-priced brands, including Kingfisher and Heineken, to offset any drop in volume.

"Growth rates [of our premium brands] have been unaffected by the slowdown," he said. "And typically when there's a slowdown, the premium items tend to do well."

Speaking to the Business Standard, Sheikhawat noted that the economic slowdown was hitting urban markets. "[People] are not only drinking less frequently but also in less quantity," he said.

Consequently he is planning to take Heineken, currently only available in 15 cities across India, into smaller cities and towns in order to grow its share. 

"Distribution will be limited, but more focused on the target market for the product," he said, indicating that it would be available only in outlets already selling premium brands.

"A lot of effort goes into placing a brand in a new market," he declared. "We are not going to place it there and expect it to sell." That meant ensuring it was on the right shelf with adequate signage and the presence of a brand representative to talk to the consumer.

He said that marketing activity would be similar, albeit on a smaller scale, to that which already takes place in the metros, such as Foosball tournaments in pubs.

In a separate development, organisers of a new Indian football super-league - Heineken has sponsored UEFA football successfully in Asia - announced that the planned January launch has now been put back until September, following a clash of dates with the existing national league.

Data sourced from Livemint, Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff