What does the future hold for rum? For the last few years, the “premiumisation factor” in the drinks business hasn’t show any sight of slowing down in the UK. A key market trend for 2016 saw “consumers drinking less, but drinking better quality” which certainly applies to the rum category. According to Euromonitor between 2015 and 2020, luxury rum is expected to increase in sales by almost US$230m. What does this mean in terms of trade and consumers? Both bartenders and consumers have greater knowledge than ever before in light of the internet and social media. They are interested in content beyond cost when it comes to picking a brand. Consumers are interested in messaging around quality, provenance, brand value, heritage and story within a brand, especially in the premium category. Here’s a look at the current status of the rum market in the UK and what we expect to see in 2017.
The craft movement in the drinks world has certainly inspired the rum category, with a high number of new artisan rum brands launching around the world in the last few years. Unlike Scotch whisky and Cognac, the rules and regulations around rum making are much more relaxed which gives rum producers plenty of freedom and flexibility for innovation. It’s hard not to think of cocktails when talking about rum, the increased popularity of drinks such as Mojitos and Mai Tais has contributed greatly to the growth and development of the rum market too. A good example would be Havana Club, a leading rum brands, which continues to focus its marketing messages around lifestyle and cocktails on social media and consumer events with great success. Packaging also plays a key role in the development of the premiumisation trend: Angostura, Appleton Estate and Elements 8 are just some of the latest brands to have packaging redesigns in favour of a more contemporary and sophisticated look.
So, how do rum brands leverage these current trends? Diageo’s Ron Zacapa focuses on its story and craftsmanship of the product, driving its super premium status by dressing its heritage in an authentic and inspiring way, similar to what you would normally associate with a luxury cognac brand. On the other hand, Pernod Ricard’s coconut flavour rum, Malibu, is targeting a younger consumer group by using smart phone technology which allows users to access content and enter prize draws by tapping their phones on the bottles. From an on trade prospective, rum brands continue to build trade relationships with cocktails across all levels, from the Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai competition in the UK to Bacardi’s Legacy cocktail competition which attracts high profile bartenders from around the world.
What do we expect to see in 2017? With the general trend of premiumisation across the spirit sector, we anticipate that it will be another strong year in the premium and above category. Unlike Gin, rum is far from reaching a saturated level and we anticipate many new rum brand launches and innovations from established brands in the UK market. What kind of innovation are we talking about? Single cask and special wood finishes would be two of the leading drivers, examples include the Plantation’s single casks, which some of its limited edition has became some of the most sought after bottles in the world. So to summarise, to launch a successful new rum brand in the UK, first establish a compelling brand story, blend this with a unique approach to messaging and shake in some fresh creativity!