The post-pandemic world has seen a great shift in consumer focus and consumption. Niche beverage brands are now creating a large indent into the market. Consumers are looking for taste, health and innovation when they make a brand choice. Poised to grow at 20-25% in the next few years, the Indian beverage industry is booming, where consumers are looking at new options. It is also fuelled by technology and logistics that have allowed these brands to flex their muscles, grow into hyperlocal markets, and focus on pan-India expansion.
Keventers, the iconic milkshake brand, was among the first to understand this trend when they revived the iconic legacy brand in 2015. Since then, there has been no looking back as the brand has grown into a pan India presence with over 2.5 million bottles sold since inception in 2015, and retail presence in countries like Kenya, UAE, and Nepal. Aman Arora, Co-Founder & CMO, Keventers, comments on the brand's success to say, "Times are changing, and they are changing quickly. You can either ride the wave or get left behind. The wonderful thing about technological innovation is that you have more ways to connect with your customers on a deeper level. Consumers are getting smarter every day. They don't just want to buy a product, they want to buy into a story, and all the niche brands today understand this and are creating narratives around it."
While Keventers is now a seasoned player and expanding into more categories, newer brands are taking advantage of the post-pandemic focus on health with newer tech innovations. LQI is a brand that aims to democratise healthy eating by sourcing from the right farmers and farms for making a ready to drink smoothie mix that packs in nutrients for consumers. They use a proprietary technology of freshly squashing, which maintains the microbial analogy ingredients without any pasteurisation or adding any additives at any stage. Shubham Khanna, Founder & CEO - Liquii Beverages Private Limited, says, "The key to longevity is to disrupt the market by bringing freshness & customer-centric innovations to the forefront, making it enjoyable & easy to use. It's about time we bridge the 'healthy' vs 'tasty' gap and seamlessly integrate wellness into a modern lifestyle."
Brands are also being powered into expansion with the right logistics and tech support. Fulfilment centres and D2C formats allow them to reach a new millennial consumer hungry for more. Take the case of ZFW, which helps food & consumer brands scale rapidly using their network of tech-driven kitchens & fulfilment centres across different geographies. It provides brands technology as a primary growth driver behind food delivery & hyperlocal fulfilment. Madhav Kasturia, Founder and CEO, ZFW, says, "Technology shifts coupled with changing consumer habits have powered many niche brands today. Cloud kitchens are one such emerging segment gaining popularity & even more so since the COVID pandemic. This trend will only get more profound as Gen Z's (who've grown up with the internet & smartphones) grow to demand products at their fingertips. Around 55% of new restaurants and brands come tumbling down within year 1, while almost 77% shut down before they reach year 5. So, if technology can help empower our industry with a much-needed boost, I will count that as a massive win. Unlike traditional F&B concepts, the new kids on the block, namely food-tech & cloud kitchens, are highly scalable, profitable, & asset-light."
In the end, the market for niche-products is growing as consumers are looking for better options, more diversity, taste, health and convenience. As brands look to expand, they bring in new ideas, backed by a need gap in the market that allows them to disrupt and bring an innovative product in.