The liquor industry in India has undergone a significant transformation over the last fifteen years, with the arrival of foreign brands, the emergence of new and experimental products from established domestic players, and the introduction of niche products by startup companies. This shift is shaping the industry’s future, which is further influenced by the discerning and evolved customers willing to try newer products and categories.
With a mission to create exceptional and high-quality spirits that offer an international and refined taste to today’s consumers, NeuWorld Spirits (NWS), a spirits and blends company, was founded in January 2022 as a part of the TRDP Group. Aspiring to become a brand that is synonymous with quality, innovation, and exceptional taste, the company envisions becoming a leading player in the spirits industry, not just in India but globally.
NWS values integrity, innovation, and excellence and prioritises the quality of its products above everything else. They strive to innovate, create unique blends that cater to their customers’ diverse and evolving tastes, and conduct their business honestly, transparently, and ethically.
Their target group is upwardly mobile and aspirational individuals who are experimental with their palate and open to trying new products and flavours. With an aim to impart lifetime experiences and brands that elevate every occasion, NWS caters to customers’ discerning taste and offer them an elevated experience with their premium blends.
As a company, NeuWorld Spirits aims to establish its presence in the premium and semi-premium categories of the alco-bev industry. The company has already launched a premium whiskey called Downing Street and a semi-premium whiskey named Royal Tribe in the initial phase.
This year, NeuWorld Spirits plan to introduce other products such as rum, premium brandy, premium vodka, craft gin, and fusion malts, all with a definite international taste, quality, and premium packaging. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, NWS currently has 50 employees, and the company is continuously growing.
Being a part of the alco-bev industry for more than 20 years, Poonam Chandel has had the pleasure of witnessing its evolution. She joined the industry in 2000 and has since then worked with several iconic brands, including Cobra Beer, 8 PM Whisky, and Director’s Special, among others.
As remarkable as her journey in the alco-bev industry has been, it was not at all planned. As a fresh MBA graduate, Poonam started working in the marketing department of a media house. However, two years into the job, she felt the need to do something more challenging. At that time, the liquor industry was predominantly male-dominated. It was then that a friend informed her about a leading alco-bev company looking for marketing professionals. Poonam took the opportunity and decided to explore the industry, and the rest is history.
Although she considers the liquor industry one of the most challenging and dynamic in the country, Poonam’s journey in the industry has been fulfilling and exciting. From consumer behaviour to product development, sales and marketing strategies complying with industry regulations, the liquor industry in India tests the mettle of those associated with it. As a Marketing Manager, she has gained valuable experience in all aspects of the industry. While consumers may see the end products, she finds satisfaction in the complex process of creating them.
Poonam shares, “Working in an industry that recognises and appreciates talent and values hard work and achievement is incredibly rewarding. Every day is a learning process, and I feel a sense of drive and purpose in contributing to my brands and the industry’s overall growth and development.”
Poonam’s idea of leadership revolves around being hands-on, limited not just to leading but motivating her team. She emphasises the importance of working collectively, respecting one’s colleagues, and demonstrating empathy and knowledge of the sector as key ingredients of a leader. For her, no job is menial, and individual growth comes from working collectively. She believes that a leader’s success is measured by the ability to create a fabulous and independent team.
Poonam acknowledges that her success and recognition in the industry are not just hers alone but rather a result of the collaboration and hard work of her team. She values teamwork and the opportunity to work on innovative projects with talented individuals in the industry. Poonam shares,
“Be it brand launches to brand re-positioning to being the youngest ‘Marketer of the Year’ at Shaw Wallace to becoming the first woman to lead an alco-bev company; the journey has been incredible. However, what brought me the most joy was meeting bright minds and launching greenfield projects.”
India’s market has great potential for more brands to enter despite the clutter. However, it is crucial to remember that a product’s quality and product differentiation, along with relevant communication that establishes an emotional connection with the brand, will determine its survival. Poonam shares,
“We are confident that our products, developed with the consumer in mind, will appeal to their palate.”
NeuWorld Spirits is currently focused on finalising the launch of a new premium vodka product in April while simultaneously working on its expansion plans. The company is strongly committed to creating standout products through extensive blend testing and packaging design with an international flair. Looking forward, the future holds continued growth and success for both the organisation and its founder.
Poonam has a positive outlook towards challenges and views them as opportunities to achieve her goals. She sees the liquor industry in India as one of the most challenging industries and embraces the difficulties that come with it. As she mentions, “if there are no challenges, where’s the fun?”
Discussing her professional journey, Poonam shares, “Fortunately, I have not faced any major difficult situations in my career that I can recall. However, I believe the key to handling challenging situations is to remain calm and not make hasty decisions. I often remind myself of a quote by Bashir Badr, a famous Urdu poet, which translates to, “We are like rivers; we know our skills. We will find a way forward no matter where we go.”
Approach to Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: She believes in maintaining a calm and unbiased mindset and finds that practising yoga helps achieve that. Field trips, meeting people, and reading about global innovations in the sector, help her stay current with industry developments and trends.
While work life can get quite hectic, Poonam handles it exceptionally. She shares, “finding a work-family balance has been the key for me to handling the workload effectively.”
While Poonam Chandel has not drawn professional inspiration from any particular woman, she has always admired Mrs Indira Gandhi for her steadfastness, poise, and ability to steer things singlehandedly. Mrs Gandhi’s leadership qualities have always been something Poonam has wished to emulate.
According to Poonam, young entrepreneurs have broader exposure and are smarter than the previous generation. She advises staying focused and having the perseverance to achieve what one sets out for is very important. Poonam says,
“Setting one’s eyes on a goal and going all out till one achieves it is the key, so one mustn’t give up or look for easier ways. Willpower, courage and focus are the three ingredients to find success.”