Mixers step up the pace

Bailey adds: “While we have a strong and growing presence in GB as our home market, we have been steadily growing the international presence of London Essence over time. We have also found increased momentum in this part of the business since Covid. Our distribution, driven largely through the on-trade, has allowed us to provide our luxury mixers to markets as wide as Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and Sydney, to name a few. This has allowed us to be recognised as the second top trending mixer brand [in Drinks International’s Brands Report].”

Meanwhile over at Fever-Tree, which tops the Annual Brands Report, 70% of its revenue now comes from overseas, and Oliver Winters, global communications director for the brand, believes gin’s history is partly to play.

Winter says: “We’ve been in the US since 2007 so we’ve got longstanding foundations there, but parts of Europe are seeing very good growth. Italy and France for example as well as Spain, which was one of the company’s first big breaks overseas and remains one of the biggest markets for premium gin and tonics. We’ve generally done very well with our tonic in Commonwealth countries where there’s been a British influence and gin is already popular.

“Our Mediterranean tonic is the biggest seller in Europe because it’s got slightly less quinine and is therefore less bitter, which works well for the European palate. In Europe there doesn’t appear to be as much importance on calorie intake as the US and UK. When people choose to have a drink it’s seen as a treat and therefore they don’t feel the need to calorie count.”

On the contrary, Thomas Henry, based in Berlin, has seen an increased demand in lower-calorie offerings and recently launched its signature products in a zero-sugar format. Its flagship tonic, Wild Berry and Ginger Beer have all been recreated without sugar and speaking to About Drinks, managing director Sigrid Bachert says: “The demand for sugarfree drinks is growing steadily, but consumers want to do without sugar, but not taste. We took up this challenge during the development of the Zero range. All Zero products are designed for mixing long drinks and ensure a balanced taste in the drink even without sugar.”

Bespoke markets

While Fever-Tree’s flagship tonic remains the cornerstone of the brand, Winters told Drinks International that each market requires different styles and flavours. And given the nuances in palates and trends in different countries, it’s important to not only match a market with a product, but develop new ones specifically to thrive inside them.

Winters says: “We used to develop a new tonic in the UK and if it proved popular we would roll it out globally through our distribution network. However, now we look at a specific market anywhere in the world and create a product to suit that country, and if it works, then we start to roll it out in similar markets.

“The US has probably been our most innovative market over the past three years. For example, we launched our Pink Grapefruit soda to use in a Paloma cocktail after speaking with various tequila brands, which expressed their desire to get tequila consumed in more ways than just sipping or shots. But because it performed so well we’ve taken it to the UK where premium tequila is also thriving.”