Diageo supplies some of the most recognisable brands in the spirits category. Johnnie Walker, which has recently celebrated its 200th anniversary, is the world’s number one Scotch whisky.

Smirnoff is the number one contributor to value growth of total vodka across the UK, while Gordon’s SKUs currently occupy the top eight gin category spots in the impulse channel.

Nathalie Piranian, Senior Category Strategy Manager GB, tells Wholesale Manager about the launch of Gordon’s 0.0% and how low and no alcohol will be a key category in the future.

What are the key products in your range wholesalers should be stocking?

It is important to provide choice so retailers are able to select and create a range that works best for them and their customers. People value trusted brands, therefore it is important to stock category leaders that customers feel an instant connection with. In the same way that big beer players unlocked the non-alcoholic beer category, we believe that having the UK’s favourite gin brand1, Gordon’s, launch a non-alcoholic product will further widen opportunity in the low and no sector. Therefore, we recently launched Gordon’s 0.0%, an alcohol-free alternative to the UK. We felt this was a natural next step to engage with the conscious consumer of today, particularly as low and no alcohol spirits are growing at +26% and Non-Alc TBA is growing at +20%2. By launching big brand innovations, we drive penetration within the market and make the products more accessible to wider audiences.

How big is the low and no alcohol sector? Is the sector in growth?

The low & no alcohol category is worth £150M RSV in GB Off trade3, and has been steadily growing over the past few years as consumers look for choice during different occasions and continue to make more balanced choices about the types of drinks they consume.

What trends are driving the market?

People are increasingly looking to explore a variety of drinks choices and products that cater to every occasion. Since there are now many innovative low and no choices, consumers can enjoy quality low and no alcohol options without having to compromise on taste and experience. Currently low and no beer is the best performing segment within the category and value sales are at £82m, but low and no spirits have seen recent growth of +26%5. Looking ahead, we expect to see non-alcoholic spirits and drinks play a significant role in the growth of the low & no category.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted Diageo’s business and the overall category?

The pandemic has affected everyone, and we have worked hard to provide support to our communities where they need us most. Last summer we launched our global ‘Raise the Bar’ two-year programme, providing practical help and support to bars as they prepared to open their doors to consumers.

How has the company’s portfolio of brands evolved in recent years?

Innovation remains a key focus and we have continued to build our current portfolio of world-renowned brands. We’re focused on developing and creating innovations that are in line with consumer trends and customer’s needs – ranging from new variations for already established brands, to new SKU formats and PMPs. One of our most successful innovations from recent years is Gordon’s Premium Pink Gin – the most successful new spirits product development in ten years6, and following in its footprint, Gordon’s also launched a series of new flavours including: ‘Gordon’s Sicilian Lemon’, ‘Gordon’s Mediterranean Orange’ and ‘Gordon’s White Peach’.

As we move forward, and in line with our new 2030 10-year sustainability action plan, sustainable packaging will continue being a key priority. In 2020 we announced the creation of the world’s first ever 100% plastic free paper-based spirits’ bottle. Launched in partnership with Pilot Lite to introduce Pulpex Limited, a new world-leading sustainable packaging technology company, the new bottle is due to debut this year with Johnnie Walker. We are excited for this to hit shelves and to see further development within this area.

What advice can you provide for wholesalers to maximise sales?

For all wholesalers, where you position products in depot is important to consider, along with clear signposting to help customers navigate aisles and find exactly what they’re looking for. POS materials can help to highlight offers or new products available. Also, with changing lockdown restrictions, there’s an opportunity for wholesalers to ‘think digital’. Online presence can be a key driver of growth, and wholesalers that allow customers to browse products online or receive promotions on their mobile encouraging spend in depot, will reap the benefits.

How are your brands currently performing?

We continue to offer some of the most well-known and recognised brands across the world. We are thrilled that Gordon’s SKUs in particular currently occupy the top eight spots in the impulse channel7 and that Smirnoff is the number one contributor to value growth of total vodka8 across the UK. Just having celebrated its 200th Anniversary, Johnnie Walker is the world’s No 1 Scotch whisky9 and we have other exciting developments with the likes of Captain Morgan, one of the UK’s most popular rum brands, which has launched a new ‘Better Than Gold’ marketing campaign and has brought recent successful innovation into the market like Captain Morgan Tiki.

Does Diageo have any low/no alcohol launches planned?

Most recently we launched Gordon’s 0.0%, made using the same finest distilled botanicals as Gordon’s London Dry Gin. It provides the bold, juniper-led character which has helped to make Gordon’s renowned the world over and delivers a truly authentic, vibrant non-alcoholic experience that captures the spirit of Gordon’s perfectly. As we look to the future, low and no will continue to be a key area for us – so watch this space!

What marketing support do you have planned?

We will remain committed to supporting new launches while continuing to focus on our core portfolio. Consumers & customers remain at the heart of our decisions to keep our brands relevant today and in the future.


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