The last year has not been easy for India’s liquor brands, according to Sridhar B., Chief Digital Marketing Officer at Diageo India. Various regulations on advertising, a liquor ban, demonetisation and the introduction of a Goods and Services tax all made themselves felt amid a period of disruptive category change.

“We as an industry have faced a horrific time last year. We had the demonetisation, then we had the GST (Goods & Service Tax) problem. Above all, we had this liquor ban happening in the country, where somebody said if a highway is passing through the middle of a city, all the pubs and bars owners had to shut shop,” he said at the Content Marketing Summit held in New Delhi recently.

“All the pubs and bars on MG Road (a key business district) in Bangalore were shut for two months - that’s the state of our business! If someone was writing a horror story, it couldn’t have been worse.”

But of challenges, opportunities are born – and Diageo has leaned on innovation to connect with Indian consumers and grow its brands despite constant hurdles.