Cream Liqueurs: Crème de la cream

Cream liqueurs need to steer away from just Christmas and towards younger consumers. Jaq Bayles reports


CREAM LIQUEURS AS a category has historically suffered from the perception that it is staid, only seasonal, and lacking in innovation, but, by its very nature, cream always rises to the top, and this year has seen a major shift in its fortunes.

Diageo’s Baileys, the standout market leader by a very large margin, grew 6% last year, with growth being attributed to a new marketing campaign and particular success in North America.

More than 10 countries hit double-digit growth including GB, the US, Ireland and Italy and Grainne Wafer, global brand director for Baileys, reports that the brand had 14m new triallists in 2017 across demographics. She says: “Our H2 (Jan-Jun, outside of the traditional peak) was the biggest H2 ever on Baileys, breaking the myth that Baileys is a seasonal brand for the holidays.

“The festive season in December is the biggest treat occasion of the year, but there are so many others – Halloween, Valentine’s, Easter, Mother’s Day. We have already had success connecting to these occasions. Communications featuring Baileys S’mores, French Toast and Over Ice-cream already connect well with these moments.

“In addition, Baileys Strawberries & Cream was a huge success for us and opened up seasons that are not traditional for the brand. So we see the whole year as filled with opportunities for Baileys.”

Given the current boom in interest in better-for-you and the free-from movement, it might seem counter-intuitive that the cream liqueurs category is growing, but Wafer says the versatility of Baileys “is embedded within food and drink culture. Hot chocolate, for example, is growing in popularity among this audience and Baileys hot chocolate is totally delicious”.

She adds that there is also evidence of the drinker profile “becoming broader – more men, more LDA-35 – in line with the treats strategy. Treating is a culturally exciting and dynamic space”.

And Diageo has been no slouch when it comes to addressing the needs of the free-from movement, introducing the gluten-free and dairy-free Baileys Almande. “It is performing in line with our expectations,” says Wafer. “It is recruiting incremental drinkers from those who want to go dairy free. We expect demand for dairy-free/vegan products to continue to grow.”

Baileys may command the lion’s share of the market, but that’s not to say other brands aren’t continuing to make headway in the sector, and leading the charge is Africa’s Amarula Cream, made with the marula fruit.

The brand is now in more than 100 countries and a study by IWSR this year ranked it second in the cream liqueurs category globally. Natasha Maharaj, global head, liqueurs, global marketing, says: “The positive growth at 5% is across all regions including South Africa, Africa, global travel retail, Europe and the Americas, maintaining global volume and value market share at 7.8% in a category growing at 4.9%.”

A new brand variant, Amarula Vanilla Spice, has just been launched, made from “ethically sourced, uniquely African ingredients - distilled Marula spirit, vanilla extract from Madagascar, and a Nigerian Ginger root, all expertly blended with the finest quality cream for an indulgent taste sensation”.