Complete SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s – India’s Best Selling Whisky Brand

Updated on: Nov 19, 2021
SWOT Analysis of Mcdowell's - Featured Image

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My name is Aditya Shastri and I have written this case study with the help of my students from IIDE's online digital marketing courses in India.

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Previously we deeply studied the Marketing Strategy for McDowell’s No.1, the largest whiskey-selling brand. Now in this case study, we will analyse the SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s.

McDowell’s is one of the largest whiskey-selling brands that has been profoundly established in the past 120 years which entrenched a deeper connection among its consumers. Different factors and strategies are considered throughout the years making them successful.

McDowell’s marketing strategies helped its rise in the liquor industry. In response to current consumer trends and interests, marketing strategies are going digital as the world has gone online. If you want to learn more about how to effectively do marketing now, attend our Free MasterClass on Digital Marketing 101, made by the Founder and CEO of IIDE, Karan Shah and learn more.

Before we dive into the SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s, let’s take a look at the company, its history, finances, products, and opponents.

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About McDowell’s

McDowell’s is a brand from India which offers three categories. These are whisky, brandy, and rum but also have bottled water and soda. The company is manufactured by United Spirits Limited (USL) a subsidiary of Diageo and is considered to be the flagship brand.

The name “McDowell” came from a Scottish distiller who established the company named Angus McDowell. It was launched in 1968 and became a hit to whisky lovers. Its best-selling whisky has sold in numerous countries such as Africa, Canada, West Asia, and the Far East.

From that, the brand has raised its sales worth $3.8 billion from 2012 to 2013 making it the largest alcoholic beverage franchise in India. By the end of 2020, the brand sold 25.7 million 9-litre-cases worldwide. Now in 2021, McDowell’s is one of the best selling whisky brands from the 5 best selling whisky brands in India.

SWOT Analysis of McDowell's - McDowell's Logo

                (Source: Google Images)

                      Quick Stats About McDowell’s

Founder Angus McDowell, United Spirits, Mallya
Year Founded 1826
Origin India
No. of Employees 3,382
Company Type Private
Market Cap Rs 233.54 Crore (2021)
Annual Revenue $1.68 Billion (2020)
Net Income/ Profit Rs 2.47 Crore (2021)


Products of McDowell’s

SWOT Analysis of McDowell's - McDowell's Soda

              (Source: Google Images)

The following products have been a signature to the company’s brand. Its products include:

  • Spirits 
  • Bottled Water
  • Soda

Close Competitor of McDowell’s

McDowell’s competes globally as it launched its products worldwide. Its main competitors are:

  • Imperial Blue
  • Royal Stag
  • Officer’s Choice    
  • Original Choice
  • Hayward’s Fine

After understanding the core of the company, let us now proceed to the SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s. 

SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This analysis is used to easily analyze these aspects and consider them in developing strategies and decisions.

To better understand the SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s, refer to the infographic below:

SWOT Analysis of McDowell's - SWOT of McDowell's in Infographics

Now let us start delving into the SWOT analysis of McDowell’s, by starting with its strengths.

Strength of McDowell’s

  • No. of Employees: Since the company has fewer employees, they can establish good management. It will be advantageous in building an employee-employer relationship.
  • Internal Control: It is an advantage to the company having effective internal control as it incorporates their wide SAP system.
  • Production: By improving the capacity of the distilling plant, the current production may be expanded. This can be an advantage to provide demand and increase the capability of the company to handle the dynamic status of demand.
  • Innovation: The company is always aiming for development and innovation. Due to their advanced facilities and equipment, they can ensure that their product is of its utmost quality ensuring value to consumers.
  • Location: Because of the location of the company, it has an ease of access to resources such as water, supplies, and even has the advantage of logistics.
  • Ethics: Given the discipline sustained in the company, either internal or external, it can have a smooth and continuous operation.

Weakness of McDowell’s

  • Limited Profit: Since the company depends on the abkari policy (Kerala Excise) the profit is deemed limited and decided by the government.
  • Logistic Costs: The main ingredient of their product is molasses which is bought in other states. This results in higher transportation costs which can affect the profitability of the business.
  • Limited Marketing: Due to the government’s strict policy about liquor advertisement, the introduction of the brand is limited.

Opportunities of McDowell’s

  • Exposed to Western Culture: The modern youth’s preference is dynamic. They are susceptible when it comes to changing their mindset about liquor consumption. Given the influence of western culture, they are bound to become liberated when it comes to the idea of alcoholic beverages.
  • India’s Population: Most of the population in India are aged 35 which is considered as the major liquor consumption group.
  • Huge Possible Market: There is still a huge portion of the population that may become the prospective consumers of the company. With this, it is seen as an opportunity for the company to continuously operate in the long run.

Threats of McDowell’s

  • Entry of Foreign Market: McDowell’s is very dominant mainly in India. However, it would be a threat to the company when a foreign market decides to enter the market. They can either provide a much higher quality of products at a cheaper and affordable price.
  • Over-taxation and Regulation: Since the company offers alcoholic beverages, they cannot escape their tax dues and strict government policies. Taxes on these types of beverages continue to rise. Regulations are becoming stricter and tighter. These can be a hindrance to the operation and profitability of the company in the long run.
  • Increase of Input Costs: Due to higher taxes, the product and conversion costs may become higher than normal. This can lead to higher relevant expenses which decrease the profit if the sales are uncontrolled. They can lead to the decision of increasing the product price because of the rise in their expenses.
  • Competitors’ Low Prices: The company may be challenged to control its prices as compared to its main competitors. Other competitors have lower prices compared to them. Consumers may opt to purchase cheaper products but provide the same quality.

This ends our detailed SWOT analysis of McDowell’s. Let us conclude our learnings below.

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To Conclude

McDowell’s is the largest liquor brand in India. It has proven its successful name by venturing globally. With the presented SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s, it has strong internal aspects in terms of its location, employees, and production. Having good internal management may reflect on its operations. Internal control and code of ethics are significant in ensuring the flow of the transactions happening inside the company.

Given the increase in competition, competitors having the most appropriate marketing strategy are winning over the consumers. Effective marketing is a necessity for businesses to survive and going digital is the only way. 

In a field full of competition, those who have the best and acknowledge marketing efforts prevail. If you are interested in grasping a skill or investing in upgrading your skills in marketing, feel free to check out IIDE’s 3 Month Advanced Online Digital Marketing Course to know more.

If you are curious about such market analysis of different companies just like the SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s then learn more about this on our IIDE Knowledge portal.

Thank you for taking the time to read, and let us know your thoughts on this case study of the SWOT Analysis of McDowell’s in the comments below.

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Aditya Shastri

Lead Trainer & Head of Learning & Development at IIDE

Leads the Learning & Development segment at IIDE. He is a Content Marketing Expert and has trained 6000+ students and working professionals on various topics of Digital Marketing. He has been a guest speaker at prominent colleges in India including IIMs......[Read full bio]


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