When Mohan Meakin Brewery launched its Old Monk brand of rum in 1954, little did they know that the drink would get so popular in the country, that it would one day have a cult following among its loyalists.
Inspired by Heartranjan’s Blog, I did some snooping into the history of Old Monk and was pretty amazed by what I found. According to DNA India, our country has 27% of the global rum consumption. This is one field, incidentally, where we are the leaders. According to Wikipedia, the brand also happens to have been ranked 5th among Indian spirits brands in Impact International’s 2008 list of “Top 100 Brands At Retail Value” with a retail value of US$240 million. In fact, 19th December is celebrated as International Old Monk Day. Quite a lot to digest, right?
The brand has been talked and written about in newspapers, blogs, facebook posts, tweets, and so many other mediums, that it gets its word of mouth without spending a single penny on marketing. In fact, there is a Facebook page ‘COMRADE’ which stands for Council of Old Monk Rum Addicted Drinkers and Eccentrics which is a group of Old Monk loyalists who meet once a month to share a drink.
The brand is also the world’s largest selling dark rum brand with 8.4 million cases sold in 2012!!!
So what keeps the brand afloat even with its minimal spend on advertising, when its competitors are constantly innovating on surrogate ads?
The brand has always taken a production oriented approach to the market. Quoting Philip Kotler’s book, Marketing Management: A South Asian Perspective, “The production concept is one of the oldest concepts in business. It holds that consumers will prefer products that are widely available and inexpensive. Managers of production-oriented businesses concentrate on achieving high production efficiency, low costs and mass distribution.”
We see this concept being applicable to commodities like sugar. So what sets Old Monk apart and prevents it from being commoditized? In fact, the brand has almost gained a cult status among Indians.
It could be the iconic cubical bottle, or the sweet vanilla fragrance of the drink. It could be the associated memories, or just the premium feel of having something that has been vatted for 7 years. Or maybe its a mix of all of these and more.
Whatever it is, I still haven’t been able to put my finger on it yet. So what do you think is the reason for Old Monk Rum’s immense success with the Indian citizens?
Author: Arko Mukherjee