Craft Spirits

COVID-19 and the challenge for craft, niche spirits (continued)

Are there opportunities too to market local, regional and emerging brands? How can your company/brand and the wider industry best tap into these?

Molson Coors Beverage Company Travel Retail Senior Manager EMEA and APAC James Thacker: Yes, there are opportunities for local and regional brands – just as there is ever increasing demand for ‘made local’ in domestic markets, so there is also in travel retail. Perhaps even more so, as a key part of travelling can be experiencing local food and drink, so everyone is trying to bring a piece of local flavour into their programme.

Offering local and regional brands helps build the category, bringing increases in sales and enhancing the consumer experience. Cruiselines are a perfect example. We try to work with our distributors to make sure cruise lines have our regional brand available for sailing from specific itineraries. When guests come onboard a cruise ship, they are looking to taste and feel the local flavour of the region that they are sailing in. That’s why if a ship is sailing out of California, we make sure we have our local California craft brand, Saint Archer’s available for the ships. Bringing in a local product, as part of a broader programme related to that region (food, trips etc) helps bring in sales and guest satisfaction.

James Thacker

Hunter Laing Business Development Director Scott Laing: By offering great products with premium packaging at sensible prices we are able to compete with our bigger competitors.

Chase talks up its field to bottle ethos on the concourse at London Heathrow T2

Walsh Whiskey Commercial Director John Kelly: Within Irish whiskey there are a number of emerging brands which are playing a key role in the growth of the category, which has been so strong in the last ten years. It’s also clear that there is a trend to premiumise within Irish whiskey as consumers and shoppers look to try something new, different and little bit more exclusive.

We at Walsh Whiskey are leading the way in this premium Irish whiskey segment with both Writers’ Tears and The Irishman portfolio, complemented by the exclusive finishes we offer, often as exclusives to our key retail partners. These exclusives help retailers to differentiate and will also help grow basket spend, which is so beneficial to the industry as a whole.

Bauer Spirits Global Travel Retail Director Hannes Koch: There clearly should be and the channel should dedicate certain spaces and temporary activities (pop-up concepts) for these where they can be tasted and highlighted. Bauer can do tastings, training, emphasise the Made in Austria quality and deliver a different flavour to the existing offer. Smaller brands generally have a ‘why not?’ attitude and are willing to make things happen and are more agile in their decision-making process.

Hannes Koch

Death’s Door Gin International Business Development Steve de Luca: Yes, because by definition all brands in the industry started as local, regional ones and moved on to becoming emerging ones before becoming established successful ones.

In our case, compared to these Death’s Door Gin starts its expansion with few of the liabilities of many such brands, but with a good deal greater number of tangible and intangible brand assets. Either directly or through our representatives, we look forward to the opportunity to bring our case in front of channel stakeholders. Try us out for size.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka International Managing Director John McDonnell: International Shoppes in the US do a great job dedicating space in their stores to promote American craft brands. It would be nice to see more of this in other stores, in other countries, showcasing products from their respective markets.

William Ovens (Ian Macleod Distillers): I think they should indeed be part of the mix, as they makes the offer more distinctive and differentiated. In some cases I have seen what I thought was a disproportionate space give to local and regional brands; in others not enough space. Not easy to get it just right!

InnoTRI Co-founder and Manager Christoph Henkel: With travel picking up consumers will be hungry again for local and regional brands as part of their memory building. Emerging brands represent the innovation part of the business – the question will not be the brand itself but the how and where. How and at which point of the traveller’s journey do you create brand awareness for a liquor brand if you do not have the right means to promote them (such as tastings). So, any new and existing brand has to come up with an answer to these points.

Most of the best-selling brands across categories have suffered. In some cases, distributors have despaired and discounted the products and this makes these brand suffer more, especially in the premium and above segments when they appear in domestic markets at a high discounted price.

Retailers, both travel retail and domestic, have a strong need for high-quality product that does not suffer from this price reduction and non-desired distribution. For us key brands such as Ron Cihuatan are benefiting as they have kept their level and are filling spaces left by other products that fell into this price/image reduction and will no longer be wanted (for a while). As an example, in France domestic, the success for Cihuatan from May onwards has been strong for this reason. The same is happening in travel retail.

With our portfolio we are already tapping into some of these opportunities. We are working on delivering solutions to create a sense of safety and to conduct promotions and tastings in a way that means customers and staff are safe and actually enjoy shopping again. This includes attractive prices with product innovation.

Ron Cihuatan: Maintaining a premium image

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 283 | 16 September 2020

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 12 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

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