How much is the spirits category worth?

The total off trade spirits category is currently worth £5,843m (Nielsen Total Coverage, Total Spirits, MAT to 27.03.21)

Is the market in growth? What is driving the growth?

Gin has continued to perform well, with recent data from the WSTA citing that flavoured gin sales in the UK were up 37% in the 12 months to 27 March 2021 – this is certainly something that we’re continuing to see reflected through sales of our best-selling Whitley Neill range.

We’re also seeing strong growth for flavoured variants across the Vodka and Rum categories. Flavoured vodka is the fastest growing category in Impulse (up 62%1), and Flavoured/Spiced Rum is the second fastest growing category2, which continues to demonstrate increase in consumer demand for new and exciting flavours across core spirits categories.

What are the biggest emerging trends in the spirits market?

Needless to say, it’s been an extremely tough year – as such, people just want to have a bit of fun when it comes to their drinks choices. We’re seeing a huge a spike in the popularity of fruity, tropical flavours such as Watermelon, Mango and Passionfruit – which are flavours that we’re bringing through across our core spirits brands – Whitley Neill Gin, JJ Whitley Vodka and Dead Man’s Fingers Rum.

Bright, eye-catching products that will stand out are also proving really popular – this is something that we are tapping into with the launch of our JJ Whitley Artisanal Gold Vodka in its dazzling gold bottle and the bright colours of our Dead Man’s Fingers Rum line up.

What effect has Covid-19 had on the market?

As a result of Covid 19 and the temporary closure of the on trade, shoppers have become more experimental with their drinks choices as they look to replicate the bar experience at home. In turn this has presented a great opportunity for spirits sales in the impulse sector, and as we approach the summer months and people are still entertaining at home, we don’t see this opportunity slowing down any time soon.

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

Our Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin continues to be a best seller. We’ve also had fantastic response to the launch of our Limited Edition Watermelon & Kiwi and Mango & Lime flavours which tap into the trend for tropical fruity flavours and are a perfect choice for summer occasions.

Our Dead Man’s Fingers Rum range is the fastest growing flavoured/spiced Rum product range, and therefore provides a great sales opportunity for the off trade. The range currently boasts a strong line up of flavours, from Spiced, through to Passionfruit, Raspberry and Banana which are delicious for putting a spin on popular cocktails such as the Porn Star Martini, Daiquiri or Mojito.

JJ Whitley Flavoured Vodka is the number one product range contributing to flavoured vodka growth3, and the total JJ Whitley Vodka range is now the second biggest product range contributing to absolute total vodka growth4. To tap into this growth opportunity we’d recommend stocking our JJ Whitley Artisanal Russian Vodka, our best-selling Raspberry and Blood Orange variants, and of course the latest addition to the range, JJ Whitley Artisanal Gold.

How is the new limited edition JJ Whitley Gold Vodka performing so far?

We’ve had a great response to the launch fo the JJ Whitley Gold, which launched last month as a Booker exclusive. Feedback from fans on our social media channels has been fantastic, with shoppers loving the quality liquid and the dazzling gold bottle.

Do you have any other new NPD coming up?

As we continue to grow the JJ Whitley range we are adding a new Blue Raspberry Artisanal Russian Vodka to the line up, which is presented in a stand out metallic blue bottle. As with the full JJ Whitley Vodka range, it provides a quality, authentic Russian vodka at a really accessible price point (£16). For Dead Man’s Fingers, we are also launching a brand new Cherry Rum variant which follows the success of the Limited Edition Cherry Skull glass variant that we launched at the end of the last year.

What marketing support do you have for your range this year?

We have been investing heavily in raising awareness of our new product launches and our latest NPD, supporting with extensive social media activity, influencer collaborations, advertising and PR. We’re also creating eye-catching POS materials to help wholesalers and retailers promote our ranges, and tapping into relevant seasonal events for our brand.

How do you work with wholesalers to help them grow sales?

We work closely with wholesalers to provide all the assets required to help promote products in depot and in turn help them to drive sales. For example, we recently ran a raft of promotional activity for Whitley Neill called ‘Brighten Up Your Gin Range’, working alongside a number of wholesalers to provide an eye catching front of store display which allowed us to showcase the Whitley Neill Brand and the power of the UK’s #1 premium gin.

Our bottles have a really strong shelf stand out, and this activation showcased how impactful a strong display can be. Along with the display we also provided POS toolkits with posters & shelf wobblers to help merchandise the products in retailers to drive awareness and purchase from consumers.

What merchandising advice do you have for wholesalers to grow the spirits category?

Stand out is key. As mentioned, we have a range of POS materials and toolkits which are a great way of attracting customers as they enter the depot. These are also really effective at sign posting the latest launches which we know are also important to retailers.

This is something that we would also recommend translating to your online offer too – with more and more retailers shopping for products online, grab their attention with digital assets such as banners and emailers in order to keep them engaged.


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