Tequila expresses itself

Bartenders are the focus of the main brands when it comes to educating consumers, and already that concentration has led to some changes in the popularity of serves.

Patrón’s chief operating officer Dave Wilson points out tequila’s versatility as a long drink. He says: “Patron and tonic is very big and a real driver. Once they’ve tried it people wonder why they were drinking G&T.”

Meanwhile, El Jimador’s Grindstaff says his brand is focusing more on the Paloma in the US than the Margarita. “Four or five years ago our idea was to come up with something ownable. Our positioning is to be more authentic and real. We wanted to promote the authentic Mexico way – what was authentic to Mexico rather than the US.”

But, while marketing and education may be paying off in the US and Mexico, they already account for some 80% of global tequila consumption, what are the prospects for tequila outside of its heartland?


Wilson says Patrón invests heavily in brand ambassadors across the globe and is now in “well over 150 countries around the world”.

But he says the brand has narrowed its focus and “all of western Europe is going gang busters”. He points to Australia as a great market and says business in Japan is doubling “all of a sudden, but from a very small base”.

He continues: “Asia’s the smallest market. We are going to continue to invest in China where they prefer dark, aged tequila. It’s going to be a long road in China. We are restricted to what we can do above the line because of the sheer geography.

“Everybody had high expectations when China opened up to 100% agave and it’s growing nicely, but not doubling or tripling each year.”

He’s backed up by Pernod’s Du Cray, who observes: “The Mexican heritage is very appealing to consumers. We see the Chinese people are really starting to like it. El Consejo Regulador del Tequila – the tequila governing body – says China could be the number two market by 2020. That remains to be seen, but China is clearly something.”

He adds that Russia, Turkey, South Africa and Colombia are all growing “extremely fast”.

So maybe the spirit of tequila is finally reaching beyond the frontier of the US and Mexico.