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Upstart Gin Brands Boost Category, Alter Market’s Landscape

December 7, 2012

The U.S. gin market has endured lackluster results for the past few years. However, a few standout brands—including E.&J. Gallo’s New Amsterdam and William Grant & Sons USA’s Hendrick’s—have given the category a much-needed boost, providing dynamism and enhancing gin’s premium credentials.

“The market for standard gin remains fairly static, so the increase in global gin consumption is absolutely a result of the rise in popularity of super-premium gins,” notes Alison Hunter, global marketing manager for Hendrick’s at William Grant & Sons. “We’re witnessing a resurgence in the popularity of craft distilling, innovation in the on-trade and the launch of small, artisan brands combined with extensions to established brands. These are exciting times.” U.S. sales of Hendrick’s ($30 a 750-ml.) rose by 27% last year to 140,000 cases.

Upstart gin marketers aren’t the only ones seeing the benefits of gin’s tilt toward craft and high-end production. “There’s interest in boutique and niche gins, as well as artisanal production, which has given the whole category a boost,” says Emma Johansson, global marketing manager, Bombay Sapphire, Bacardi Ltd. Bombay Sapphire enjoyed solid growth in the U.S. market in 2011, posting a 4.3% rise to 845,000 cases. The rest of the Bombay range, which is priced below Sapphire and lacks its upscale cachet, was flat at around 225,000 cases.

The overall Bombay range ranked third in the U.S. last year at 1.07 million cases, a 3.4% rise from the previous year. It was the only gin brand among the top four to achieve growth, as market leader Seagram’s, second-leading Tanqueray and fourth-ranked Gordon’s all suffered dropoffs. However, New Amsterdam, the market’s fifth-biggest gin brand, continues to quickly gain ground. Selling for around $14 a 750-ml., the Gallo brand has enjoyed double-digit annual growth for the past six years. During that time, its yearly sales have jumped from 10,000 cases to 700,000 cases and brought it within striking distance of the U.S. gin market’s longtime leaders.

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