Launch analysis: The Chivas Brothers’ Blend

“Consumers are definitely going to be able to differentiate the two whiskies,” he adds. “We think it will attract new consumers to the brand, and reappraisal in the case of existing Chivas drinkers, giving them the opportunity not only to purchase as a gift, but also to try something new within the Chivas range.”

The new whisky’s purple cap and outer carton is no random choice of colour, but one intended to catch the eye of an increasingly important group of travelling customers for the brand – the mainland Chinese. “We are the leaders in the Chinese market,” says Slack. “Pernod Ricard China has a lot of insights into Chinese consumers so we work closely with them to make sure we appeal to the Chinese traveller and never more so than with the Brothers’ Blend. Purple is a key indicator of wealth in the Asian community.”  

Emerging markets

China and the Chinese traveller are of course key targets for the Chivas Brothers’ Blend, but as Slack is keen to point out, the overall Chivas brand has a big following in just about every corner of the globe. “We have a good, strong emerging market base in Asia, Latin America and some of the up-and-coming eastern European countries,” he notes. 

Even African duty free, although tiny and undeveloped in relative terms, holds potential for the Chivas Brothers brand, especially in oil-rich countries such as Nigeria. 

“Africa is a burgeoning area for us,” says Slack. “What we do know, though, is that the market is still embryonic. There is still a massive beer culture in Africa and international spirits have only just started to get any traction there. Yet we are very focused on developing the region’s potential, and over the next 12-15 months you will see lots of activations planned for those markets.”  

The Chivas Brothers’ Blend goes live in global travel retail on October 1 and will be the focus of a big launch event down in Cannes later in the month. 

But after the initial launch excitement and media attention have faded the key to the new whisky’s ultimate chances of success will lie in how well and extensively the product is marketed and promoted. To that end, a global travel retail teaser campaign entitled A New Arrival from Chivas has been running at key airports in recent months to arouse curiosity.

Once the product is on shelf, Pernod Ricard Travel Retail will push the button on a suitably high profile (and no doubt costly) airport promotional programme in an effort to create and sustain interest in the new whisky. 

Tasting will be a key element of in-store activities, but a number of as yet undisclosed activities will also take place on the concourse and at other airport locations with high passenger flows.

Details surrounding this ambitious promotional campaign for the Chivas Brothers’ Blend are a little hazy at this early stage – the press release announcing the launch talks “digital interaction” and “innovative consumer engagement activities”, for instance. 

However, retailers will be reassured that Pernod Ricard Travel Retail has an excellent track record of staging successful promotional initiatives for Chivas, many of which are contemporary in style and approach.

Promotoinal tactics

A good example of this tactic was Chivas Regal’s tie-up last year with the ultra-exclusive Parisian nightclub chain Le Baron which, in addition to its original Paris club now boasts hip outposts in New York, Tokyo and London. The Art of Hosting campaign, which subsequently ran at airport shops around the world over the first half of 2012, centred on a limited-edition gift pack of Chivas Regal co-branded with Le Baron. The pack featured a digital card, which allowed travellers to access music mixed by the Le Baron Club DJ, and films made by the club’s charismatic founders, André and Lionel, on how to be the ultimate host.

“I really liked the Art of Hosting partnership with Le Baron,” says Slack. “It allowed us to introduce modernity and remind consumers that there is an energy and optimism about the Chivas Regal brand.”

Blending tradition and modernity is what Chivas Regal has become rather good at. This is the spirit after all that encouraged Chinese consumers to drink the brand with that most untraditional of scotch whisky mixers, green tea – a simple serve which has transformed Chivas Regal’s fortunes in the country over the past 10 years. It’s a safe bet to expect tartan, bagpipes or stags won’t form any part of the marketing campaign for the new Chivas Brothers’ Blend. But joking aside, Pernod Ricard has high hopes for this latest addition to one of the world’s most famous whiskies.