THE BOOZE BIN
By Brian Ellis (@onegator)
I consider myself a fan of the booze business having cut my teeth in the liquor world right out of college as a liquor store manager. Great job for a recent college grad by the way! Having built a new bar in my house recently, I tasked myself with stocking the shelves with only the finest. Not to give away my age, but back in my liquor store days I could count on one hand the number of premium brands on the shelf and most were collecting dust.
Yet while on my recent bar stocking excursion, I was blown away by how much the top shelf has changed. Perhaps I’ve been on cruise control to the bourbon section all these years but for crying out loud, it’s getting confusing out there. As a marketer I understand the value of launching new products and brand extensions so I started contemplating if our tastes had really change over time and could these new premium brands unseat the established icons I had come to admire.
Certainly my insider’s perspective of the premium brand category could not be wrong! My search led me to MSNBC, where I stumbled upon a recent study conducted by the Luxury Institute on premium brand preferences. They asked 1,771 Americans with an average net worth of $4.3 million (not the 21-year- old set) to rate wine and liquor brands based on quality, uniqueness and exclusivity. Most I had heard of but several were new to me. So I dug a little deeper to see how new this next generation of high-end brands had achieved the unthinkable.
To make this fun, I listed the top brands identified in the study within each category, but I’ve mixed up the dates when the brand was first launched. First try to pair the dates with the appropriate brand then move on to the second half of the post.
Bourbon Woodford Reserve 1989
Scotch The Macallan 1794
Vodka Grey Goose 1996
Gin Bombay Saphire 1824
Rum 10 Cane 1997
Tequila Patron 2005
Champagne Dom Perignon 1885
Wine Far Niente 1987
Cognac Grand Marnier 1880
To my surprise, only two of my top brands had survived the battle. Two I had never heard of and the others had been replaced by new entries into the category. Three hit store shelves between 1986 and 1989 (clearly a vintage period for premium brands). Perhaps my biggest shock was in the rum category where a relative new comer had claimed the top spot. In six years, 10 Cane had pushed aside a host of more senior players to take the prize.
While I’m sure Bacardi is still cleaning 10 Cane’s clock in total sales, it does demonstrate that well established brands can become vulnerable if they rest on their laurels. By the way, below you will find the correct answers to my little quiz. I leave you with this one piece of wisdom, no matter your favorite brand; it’s always best when shared with friends and savored responsibly. Cheers!
ANSWERS: Woodford Reserve 1996; The Macallan 1824; Grey Goose 1997; Bombay Saphire 1987, 10 Cane 2005, Patron 1989; Dom Perignon 1794; Far Niente 1885; Grand Marnier 1880.