AS the number of Scottish drinks producers continues to multiply, and demand is seemingly still growing, it seems there’s never been a better time to stock Caledonian brands.
Despite uncertainties in the economic and political landscapes, drinks firms across Scotland were bullish on the future of the country’s products.
And demand for Scottish-made drinks is expected to remain high in pubs and bars, as customers continue to take a deeper interest in what they’re eating and drinking.
Neil Boyd, commercial director at Ian Macleod Distillers, parent firm of, among others, Glengoyne single malt whisky and Edinburgh Gin, said Scottish brands are a good match with what staff and customers alike are looking for in 2017.
He said: “The appetite for ‘craft’ drinks continues to grow exponentially, and Scottish brands are well-placed to meet this demand.
“Both consumers and bartenders are looking for Scottish mixers and spirits with something of an origin story behind them – they like to know how their drinks were made and, whenever possible, by whom.”
The progressively busy market was hailed too by co-founder of the Caithness-based Dunnet Bay Distillers, Martin Murray, who said he expected to see more products emerging in the near future.
Consumers want a connection to a brand, and local brands offer this connection.
“I think over the next 12 months we will see an increasingly crowded Scottish marketplace in the gin and beer categories,” said Murray.
“Demand is still strong, consumers want to have a connection to a brand and local brands offer this connection.”
For operators on the front line of the licensed trade, the explosion in products made in their home nation will not have gone unnoticed.
The craft movement has managed to reach out to a broad group of potential consumers across a range of demographics, but it is increasingly millennials, loosely defined as those born between the early 1980s and the mid 1990s, who are seen as the group that’s driving the movement.
James Doig of the Finnieston Distillery Company said he believed those who understand these consumers can grasp a significant and growing share of the market.
He said: “I believe millennials are the crucial drivers behind the success of local products and companies.
“They are always looking for something different, innovative and ‘out there’ to try.
“Millennials like to travel, experience new cultures, food and drinks and are therefore the main supporters of local companies and local products in our area and the main reason why independent drinks brands are doing so well.”
That’s a view shared by Highland Spring’s marketing chief, Carol Saunders, who stated that, while interest in Scottish brands is growing across different consumer groups, it’s younger adults who are the most supportive of native manufacturers.
“From a local perspective, millennials have the highest affinity with local produce,” said Saunders.
“Those consumers search out products that have strong provenance, authenticity and heritage.”
While younger consumers have been identified as one of the most important target markets for Scottish drinks brands, they’re not the only customers seeking out Scottish products.
Those outlets catering to tourists were also advised to stock up on a range of Scottish drinks.
Murray of Dunnet Bay Distillers said: “Overseas visitors and also visitors from outside the local area are keen to try Scottish brands and those local to the area.
“Venues in areas of tourism can use the local or Scottish credentials to boost sales to these visitors.”
Scottish consumers seek out local products no matter what type of outlet they are visiting.
Yet the popularity of Scottish brands isn’t limited to these two groups.
Fi Leonard, customer marketing manager at Tennent’s, said a majority of outlets should be able to profit from stocking Scottish-made drinks.
She said: “In our experience Scottish brands are popular across a range of outlets. Scottish consumers seek out local products no matter what type of outlet they are visiting. It’s important to cater for as wide a variety of consumers as possible so a good spread of beer, wine and spirit options should from the basis of any range.
“We advise our customers to stock a range of products, as choice remains crucial for drinkers in the on-trade. Operators should make sure customers are met with a great selection of Scottish drinks to choose from.”