Liqueurs: Top of the pile

These launches come on top of Malibu Red’s debut in September last year. The intriguing mix, which includes tequila, is fronted by R&B singer/song writer Ne-Yo and is proving “very successful” in both the US and the UK. “The US is easily Malibu’s biggest market and the brand has gone from strength to strength. As such we are tremendously satisfied,” says Duffy. 

Indeed, according to IWSR figures over the past five years, Malibu has moved in the US from 1.6 million cases (2008) to just under 1.9 million by close of play 2012. 

In contrast, Kahlua, Malibu’s partner in the Pernod Ricard-owned Absolut camp, has been in decline from a high of 1.1 million cases to 939,000 cases over the same period. This is against a backdrop of improving fortunes for liqueurs overall Stateside, which fell from 20.4 million cases in 2008 to a low of 19.5 million in 2010, but has since rallied to 20.3 million cases last year.

However, Pernod Ricard is clearly out to improve the world’s number one coffee liqueur’s fortunes and has really been getting behind the brand. “Kahlua has a slightly older consumer profile than Malibu. The brand has particular appeal among the 25 to 35-year-old age group and older. We’ve started a process of being more explorative,” says Duffy. 

This has resulted in the advent of two new expressions – Kahlua Midnight, which is a mix of Kahlua and rum and is positioned as a shot brand, and Kahlua Pumpkin Spice, which is primed for special occasions such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. “It’s all about making the brand more relevant and contemporary,” says Duffy.  

The upturn in the US has also been good news for Scotch whisky liqueur Drambuie. “We are satisfied with our start to calendar 2013,” says global marketing director Tim Dewey. “Generally there has been good progress in Asia, the UK and the US. While traditional liqueurs have grown by 10% in the UK, Drambuie has grown by well over twice that rate.” The company attributes the recent growth in the US to the continued developed of the flavoured whisky market, “especially Jack Daniel’s Honey”. 

“We feel this is a positive development for us and Drambuie is showing slight growth in the US,” says Dewey.  

Currently Drambuie employs six full-time brand ambassadors in the US who work with on-trade outlets in major cities pushing the consumption of Drambuie cocktails on bar menus. “Our efforts are not behind one specific cocktail but we put ideas to the outlets and the mixologists within these outlets build on these or create their own recipes that they feel will work well.” 

The same is true in the UK, where Drambuie now has a full-time brand ambassador in Scotland. “Here we have developed a couple of lead serves for the UK this summer, in particular the Scottish Sangria and the Dram-bru-ie, which plays off both the UK and US trend for beer-based cocktails which are particularly appealing to male consumers.  

“In Canada we have taken this further and have a unique partnership with Rickard’s beer, part of the Molson Coors portfolio,” says Dewey.