TONIQUE STUCK IN SOUTH INDIA
What do you say about a liquor store that claims to be the swankiest in the country stocking over 1500 brands? You are wasting everybody’s time if you don’t have an outlet in Gurgaon, Haryana! That’s what! Wake up, Tonique…
Tonique offers a completely air-conditioned ambience wafting with specialised perfume flowing across the store. Buying your favourite brand here is an experience that is hard to replicate anywhere in Asia, claims Tonique. Well, well!
Living up to its reputation as Asia’s biggest liquor store sprawling across two floors, Tonique is located in the centre of Bengaluru, majestically housed at MG Road, near Cubbon Parkside. The high point is that it is located in what is grandly known as the ‘Jewels de Paragon’ building! Apparently, they stock over 1,500 brands of alcohol from across the globe and match it with grand service. But the customer is more interested in the price point!
Tonique operates under two brand names: Tonique & Q by Tonique. Under Tonique there is one store apiece in Hyderabad and Pune & three in Bengaluru. Under Q by Tonique, there are seven stores in Hyderabad.
They began operations in December 2016 with the first outlet opening up in Hyderabad. They started their Bengaluru operations in June 2019 and the customers on seeing their Bengaluru store were amazed that a liquor store could be of such size. It has a completely air-conditioned ambience, punctuated with specialised perfume flowing across the store. The outlet has a dedicated parking complete with security guards, bouncers, and also lady guards.
Brands & Demand
The plethora of brands available with the corporation depot includes globally renowned players like Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, Glenlivet, Johnnie Walker, Chivas and Royal Salute among others. You may also be tempted to pick up rare gems like Ricard Hennessy, Louis XIII, Dom Rose and Krug. They were probably the first retail liquor player in South India to list Sakes & Soju on the shelves and Champagnes from 200 ml to 9000 ml in size at one point of time.
Based on the sales pattern the brands in demand at the much-talked-about huge Tonique store in Bengaluru can be categorised under whisky, gin and vodka in the spirits section. Of course, wines too are in demand at the store and beer comprises their largest sales volume segment. Of late, hard seltzers and gin-based RTDs also have picked up in demand.
On the need to maintain price parity with neighbouring states and its impact on sales, Tonique claims that the tax structure in Karnataka for spirits and beers is one of the highest in the country. All the more reason to move three or four outlets to duty-friendly Haryana, favouring a huge impact on sales due to the low pricing while at the same time showing that neighbouring states like Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh suffer scarcity in the availability of some of the alcobev brands.
It goes without saying that customer service is the essence of a top-notch liquor retail brand like Tonique. Their staff comes with a hotel management background and their wine floor is controlled by personnel who at least possess a Wset 2 qualification. They also organise regular training sessions for the floor staff. To provide ease of service to lady customers, their outlet in Bengaluru has Lady Guest Relation Executives (GREs) to give them personal attention. Another thoughtful and sensitive gesture they offer at the outlet is providing wheelchairs and customised assistance to senior citizens who may need it.
As for the customer profile of the above-mentioned Tonique store in Bengaluru, it includes consumers from almost all walks of life and largely encompasses people who really love their drinks. As for the ratio of women shoppers at the store, GLN says the ratio is 60 per cent men and 40 per cent women. On weekends, one can see the rare sight of the entire family walking in together – like the couple with parents and children. For women, when the need arises, the store operates separate billing counters and is attended to by the lady GRE.
With regard to change in consumer behaviour in the post-Covid era, GLN says that their customers generally have upgraded to the next segment and also drinking at home has increased. As for payment modes, Tonique accepts all credit cards, including international cards & Amex cards too. UPI payments are also widely accepted. The only two negatives one could say is that there is no home delivery system since the state doesn’t allow it and second, the steep tax structure has a major adverse impact. But these two disincentives don’t serve as deterrents as shopping at Tonique is a global experience, with a personal touch.