Craft Spirits

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

How do we ensure that craft products can convey their stories of authenticity and provenance better in the travel channel?

Walsh Whiskey Commercial Director John Kelly: Authenticity and provenance are key within all categories and no more so than in Irish whiskey. Irrespective of the channel, transparency is the key to success in this space and all partners in the industry must work together to ensure that these stories are conveyed in the appropriate way.

Hunter Laing Business Development Director Scott Laing: Smaller brands have to interact with consumers in domestic markets and in the travel retail channel in a creative manner to ensure that we can get our story across. Social media is part of the communication mix but we also have to educate sales staff in duty free shops, get them to try our products and explain why we can offer their customers a better choice.

Chase Distillery Managing Director Andrew Carter: To be able to offer craft spirit brands the opportunity to activate at key trading periods to maximise growth opportunities and to also portray their key brand messaging. At Chase we have recently launched a new 360-degree virtual tour, following our field to bottle process; from potato harvest, mashing, fermenting, distilling Chase Vodka, making our gin, and bottling. All on our family farm in Herefordshire, UK. We hope to showcase this in retail stores very soon.

Bauer Spirits Global Travel Retail Director Hannes Koch: Craft and smaller brands need to be more vocal than the big established ones and must be constantly telling stories and sharing news to gain awareness. They need to take part in industry events, contribute to the trade press and be active.

William Ovens (Ian Macleod Distillers): Telling the brand story in the packaging is key, as that will be consistent wherever the product is sold. POS / staff training / instore advertising / digital marketing are also key, as is the brand’s communication and advertising strategy in domestic markets.

InnoTRI Co-founder and Manager Christoph Henkel: Digital media is of importance. The various industry awards should open with a new category called ‘Best True Craft Product of the Year’, instantly sending a clear message. The filtering of true craft should be clear and strict.

Wild Tiger Founder Gautom Menon: The problem even for the well-travelled consumer is that the whole new concept of craft spirits seems an imprecise one. There is no firm definition that is widely acknowledged. Defining craft spirits is a divisive subject and a topic of debate at every drinks conclave in recent history.

For me ‘craft’ is very much in the eye of the individual buying the product. It shouldn't necessarily have anything to do with volumes, size of ownership or production equipment alone. Attributes any brand claiming to be craft should encompass are strong provenance, quality of ingredients used, sustainable production methods, point of differentiation in packaging and most importantly staying authentic and building a compelling story. These should be communicated by way of QR codes, neck tags and shelf displays.

Gautom Menon

Four Pillars Regional Trade & Global Travel Retail Director Mark Lawton: We need not be scared to work together as a craft spirits category to offer the shopper bigger and better impactful craft spirits activations.

Encouraging discovery across the travel retail range

Molson Coors Beverage Company Travel Retail Senior Manager EMEA and APAC James Thacker: The consumer experience with the craft brand must tell a story that entices and educates the consumer on what makes this brand special, connects with the consumer and ultimately makes them happy to spend more on it. The marketing plan for a craft brand must have a strong staff and consumer education platform to make sure the authenticity of the brand is not lost during the selling process.

In the on-trade in particular, it’s the staff that are absolutely key, as there are few touch points to communicate with the consumer. Staff have a lot to remember, and helping represent your craft brand may not be top of their list. You need to instill in staff the same passion for the brand that you have – which often means a lot of legwork – tastings and training sessions, backed up with incentives and on-going engagement. Where brand owners can get our own team out in to retail to support them, we would do this too.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka International Managing Director John McDonnell: A global app for duty free would help! With an app, a brand like Tito’s Handmade Vodka for instance would have a powerful global platform to post information, cocktail recipes, and videos about the brand’s authenticity and integrity.

Death’s Door Gin International Business Development Steve de Luca: As we expand into the EMEA and select APAC duty free segment, we will be looking for operators’ ideas of what works in their airport stores on how to best communicate Death’s Door story of authenticity based on their experience. We have the authentic story, so we just need to hear how to best deploy that story to be of added value to them.

Choya Senior Manager Seiji Susuki: Though it is not easy to tell stories to travellers, inflight magazines and setting up the sales floor in stores are useful. The spread of customer reviews is important too. We have to keep promoting the good points of products and ensure they are eye-catching and delicious.

Power brands are front and centre once more as travellers seek brands they know best, but smaller players must find ways to stand out, say suppliers

Stoli Group Global Duty Free and Travel Retail Director Jean-Philippe Aucher: Giving brands the space and opportunity to do so at a viable cost.

Loch Lomond Group Managing Director Global Travel Retail Andre de Almeida: Travel retailers should capitalise on this craving for authenticity by increasing the diversity of their offer, by actively promoting the craft spirit segment through activations, and by telling their story both in-store and via digital means. Craft spirits could help in creating excitement and bring back to stores potential shoppers such as frequent business travellers and younger adult passengers.

Vinay Golikeri

Bacardi Global Travel Retail Managing Director Vinay Golikeri: “This crisis has set unique challenges for the entire travel retail industry and, at Bacardi, we are working closely with our retail partners to define new approaches and innovation for the channel. The radical shift in shopping behaviour, in particular in digital adoption, is creating new opportunities for Bacardi to engage with travellers in positive, disruptive ways throughout their journey and to drive physical and digital footfall.

“Travel retail remains a long-term, key strategic channel for Bacardi to reach emerging market consumers and is a perfect setting to bring to life our premium portfolio of iconic brands and to offer the exclusive items and experiences that we know consumers desire. We believe that travel is in our human DNA and, as the pandemic subsides, more consumers will start travelling again and, when they do, Bacardi will be ready with inspirational and memorable experiences that help them celebrate moments that matter during their journeys and adventures.”

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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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