May 23: If one sat down and tried to estimate the bruising of all the wine locked up in warehouses that switched off the air-conditioning, one would be inclined to pull his hair, but at least those who possess a wine cooler in the house or wherever, would not lose the quality of the liquid inside, and with the Government of India, extending facilities to manufacture products under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme, some entrepreneur would surely like to emulate the budge wine cooler being launched in Australia by Aldi for only Rs. 13,500
No matter which type and style of wine- red, white, sparkling, they all need to be stored at 12-15⁰C to keep them safe from deterioration from temperatures. Humidity is also important but temperature can make a lot of difference-either in transit or in storage. For a household, it is imperative to store them in a cool spot at this temperature and the warm fluctuating temperatures make it almost mandatory to keep them in a cooler at the fixed temperature.
Aldi Fridge in Australia
Aldi is a German supermarket which has made serious inroads into the Australian market-especially in selecting wines of exceptional quality at decent prices. Knowing the importance of proper storage, they are launching that holds 28 bottles (a decent size for the Indian market for a vast majority of the increasing number of Indian wine drinkers during the next decade) on May 23 at a special price of A$ 275 (Rs. 13,500), that also gives 3 years Warranty. It has reversible glass door and wooden shelves and looks quite sleek. They claim the normal selling price for comparable products is A$ 467.
So what is the relevance of this product for India? Quite a few machines have been available in India- most of them are imported from China even though Taiwan and South Korea also make such coolers in bulk. An excellent attempt was made by Voltas which entered the market in 2006 and perhaps imported them in SKU form. They priced their compact, comparable cooler with about 60 bottle capacity and retailed at around Rs. 17,000. They were ahead of times and perhaps over-assessed the market at that time.
Market with excellent potential
Now, after 20 years the things have changed a lot. As compared to less than 200,000 people estimated to drink wine regularly at that time, the estimate has increased to 2-5 million people. Not all of them comprehend the criticality of storing wines at correct temperature. Many have tasted bruised wine at a level much lower than when they bought it (which is anyway, lower than what it was at the winery) and do not experiment further; this is also partly a reason that many non-wine drinkers have a fantastic time tasting wines at the wineries but when they come back, they shift back to their daily dose of whisky, rum or vodka (there are several other factors but it is not the purpose here to focus on that aspect).
Many of the evolved novices are now recognising the importance of wine storage as an important aspect of wine experience and there is a huge latent potential in the market, running into 6 figures for a quality product that is relatively service-free or can be repaired easily, in case of a problem. This has been a problem. I had bought an excellent 85-bottle vibration free cooler from Belgium for Rs. 83,000 a long time back. It served me very well till I needed some repair that set me back by Rs. 22,000 and it has never performed satisfactorily ever since.
Made in India
I might like to add that in 2002, I had considered introducing an Indian product, to showcase the importance of temperature storage and got a cooler which had the capacity of about 70 bottles, was not attractive to look at but costed less than Rs. 12,000. I gave up the business idea in favour of dedicating to educating and promotion of wine culture to masses instead. Despite its minor flaws, that has been the only cooler that has been working very well-even today.
Wine Cooler as Atmanirbhar Bharat Project
Time has come for the product to be introduced in the Indian market at a national level with proper servicing arrangements. In today’s scenario, the cheap 87 liter Chinese version of a well-known brand Haier, is priced at Rs. 25,000-28,000 and can store 21-25 bottles. (For your information, the higher number is very difficult to actually achieve in a machine and is an idea number. The dual temperature UV Protection Glass door (both are expensive and rather irrelevant for use in India), KWC-24 KAFF costs a cool Rs. 70,000. The service may be reasonable but I have had a bad experience with such imported products even with KAFF- an oven costing about Rs. 34, 000 only 5-years back is now gathering dust because they have stopped supplying parts for it. My simple Voltas wine cooler is still doing fine after 12 years with only one repair during all this time and that did not cost me much.
Euro-Cave is a French-based cooler (chiller) that is dual temperature (why do we require dual temperature, I fail to understand, except perhaps for restaurants) but sold around Rs. 2 lakhs. Miele is yet another one from Germany running into lakhs whereas Siemens, Bosch etc are around Rs. 1 lakh +. White Westinghouse is a US product but like most of these machines is made in China.
A colleague of mine Sanjeev Sharma did a study as he wanted one for his self-use, and calculated the cost for storage per bottle. These are on the low-end of the spectrum.
Based on the existing prices and the wine cooler being introduced by Aldi at around Rs. 13,500 today, the Indian company under Atmanirbhar Project can surely introduce a budget model for beginners, for under Rs. 20,000 and will have a huge market. The other models can go upto Rs. 50,000-Rs. 60,000 with the deluxe and super deluxe models still costing less than a lakh but only for a few top-end discerning customers who like to collect wines.
As they say, it’s the thought that counts. Any takers….? Over a 100,000 potential customers are waiting to take your product every year if it is good product with fair pricing and impeccable after-sales-service which is a key component of the wine coolers. Consumers in all ranges, restaurants, hotels- in fact everyone who starts drinking wine regularly is your potential customer. A simple rule of thumb for your customers- whatever you think is the number of bottles you will store, double that and you will find that there is a better demand for 40-60 bottle units. There would be plenty more who would go for the 63- bottle crude machine that I had got developed 18 years ago-with a fridge like enclosure for the house.
For our readers in Australia, enjoy the new product being launched at the special price of Rs. 13,500.
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