Broad choice means operators must choose carefully
A broad field that takes in everything from liqueurs to flavoured vodkas, the category is said to have been booming in recent years as brand owners continue to vie for consumers’ attentions with new products and flavours.
“New flavours have definitely captured the imagination and taste buds of consumers,” said Jim Grierson, sales director for the on-trade at Maxxium UK, which distributes Sourz.
“This means they [consumers] are more aware of new launches and are also more likely to try something new. This has led to expanded drinks repertoires.”
Operators have a broader range of speciality spirits available to them than ever before.
It’s not just consumers who have a larger selection of products to choose from, though. Operators also have a broader range of speciality spirits available to them than ever before.
Alvin Saal, brand manager for Cointreau at distributor First Drinks, said licensees’ knowledge of their customer base is essential when deciding which brands to stock.
“In terms of speciality drinks, for any licensee, the important thing is who are the consumers and what do they drink,” he said.
“What is important for speciality drinks particularly is how do they [consumers] drink them.”
Katja Gebert, UK marketing manager for Jagermeister, said promoting a ‘perfect serve’ for speciality spirits is key to growing sales.
“In order for consumers to receive the full flavour and experience of the product, licensees should make sure they serve it as recommended,” she said.
“The preferred serve for Jagermeister is as an ice cold shot, therefore licensees should ensure that Jagermeister is stocked in either a freezer, or a very cold fridge, rather than on the shelf at room temperature.”
It’s not just Jagermeister that’s been suggesting serves to the on-trade. Maxxium introduced new Sourz serves in time for the Diamond Jubilee – the Berry Brit and the Cranberry Jewels – while First Drinks has been promoting serves like Cointreau and cranberry and Cointreau, lime and soda.
Distributor Cellar Trends, meanwhile, has been highlighting the versatility of Sambuca brand Luxardo, through serves like the Mikey’s Mojito, which uses the Spiced Apple Sambuca in place of rum. Brand manager Craig Chapman said the cocktail “shows off [the brand] in a simple refreshing way”.
But liqueurs aren’t the only speciality spirits competing for space on the back-bar.
The number of flavoured vodkas on the market has increased in recent years, with the market now worth £73 million in Scotland, according to the firm behind vodkas Grey Goose and Eristoff.
“Flavoured vodka growth in Scotland is primarily being driven by managed pubs, which highlights the spirit’s versatility and its ability to substitute unflavoured spirits in simple serves to provide consumers with new and interesting taste experiences,” said marketing controller Mark Holdsworth.
Smirnoff owner Diageo said good communication of the offer is key to maximising sales of flavoured vodkas in outlets.
“The challenge, as with any new product, is getting consumers to change or add to their tried and tested repertoire of drinks,” said Andrew Leat, senior category development manager for the on-trade at Diageo GB.
“Communication of the new product in outlet is crucial and it needs to be in key areas on the customer journey from door to bar.”
Holdsworth at Bacardi Brown-Forman agreed.
“If flavoured vodkas don’t get the focus they require then they will sit on the back-bar taking up valuable space so licensees need to think of ways of getting his or her consumers to try the drinks,” he said.
Licensees should stock what sells well in their outlet and leave some space for newer products.
“Licensees should also consider what currently sells well in their own pub or bar whilst leaving some space for newer innovative products that will catch their consumers’ eye.”
Getting the range just right can be of real benefit to pubs and customers alike, according to Absolut owner Pernod Ricard UK.
“Consumers are always looking for more exciting and unusual drinks, and, similarly, bartenders are always looking to push the boundaries and are demanding more interesting and more dynamic flavours,” said on-trade channel director for spirits Ian Peart.