Back in the day vodka was colourless, odourless and tasteless; gin was a Juniper led white spirit and whisk(e)y was something you graduated towards once your palate had ‘grown up’.
Today there is a morphing of spirit categories like never before – whiskies with honey, cherry and citrus; vodka with botanicals; and gins crafted to taste like vodka.
Two distinct forces are at play here driving these trends – firstly brand owners are looking to entice new, younger consumers through taste and flavour innovations and greater accessibility. Secondly, consumers are looking for new taste experiences irrespective of traditional categories and rituals.
This morphing effect has resulted in the once staid and traditional category of whisk(e)y now being cited as the single most versatile spirit from a usage perspective. Regular usage now spans shots, neat, long mixed drinks and an array of classic and innovative cocktails.
So surely this is all good news for brand owners? Perhaps not. As owners continue to line extend in order to secure ever quicker ROIs, little thought is being given to long-term brand equity and what the core brand trademark stands for, or should stand for.
Whilst short-term volume pipelines may solve annual business plans, there is a real danger that the ‘crown jewels’ of some companies may be losing their sparkle just a little and becoming a bit more like all the others.
This article was written by Mike Spurling, Managing Partner