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Malibu Red Spearheads New Wave Of Spirits Innovation At Pernod Ricard

December 13, 2012

Malibu rum has been one of the U.S. spirits market’s most dynamic players on the new product front, as brand-owner Pernod Ricard continues to aggressively expand the franchise’s flavor range.

In March of this year, Malibu launched its first fusion product, Malibu Red. The Tequila-infused Red represents a marked departure from the Malibu core brand, as it’s significantly higher in both alcohol content and price (Red retails for around $19 a 750-ml., roughly $4 more than Malibu). Pernod Ricard USA backed the new effort by partnering with Grammy-award-winning musician Ne-Yo in a comprehensive marketing campaign.

According to NABCA numbers, Malibu Red sold 13,000 cases in control states from March through October 2012. Control states usually account for around one third of a brand’s U.S. sales, and so Malibu Red appears to be off to a strong start.

Shanken News Daily recently spoke with Malibu brand director Lisa McCann at Pernod Ricard USA to discuss Malibu Red’s progress and the climate for new products in today’s spirits market.

SND: Why did you decide to launch Malibu Red, a much different proposition than past Malibu extensions?

McCann: Consumers are expanding their view of the spirits category, and they’re asking for more. They’re no longer happy to try just another flavor extension or rely on the old staple brands. They’re curious and open to exploring new concepts.

SND: What were your expectations for Malibu Red prior to its launch?

McCann: Malibu Red was launched with a high level of confidence. We knew consumers were open to new hybrid-style innovations, and we felt that that the combination of Malibu and Tequila created a unique, compelling proposition. The flavor profile and 70-proof content has allowed the Malibu franchise to extend its reach—appealing to new consumers and expanding into new, more higher-energy consumption occasions. Collaborating with Ne-Yo also has helped Malibu Red to become more relevant. Ne-Yo played an instrumental role in everything from packaging design to advertising development, and he provided valuable direction in helping deliver a strong launch.

SND: So how has Malibu Red performed thus far?

McCann: Since launching in March 2012, Malibu Red has exceeded all expectations. Consumers are intrigued by the product profile, and the support received from Ne-Yo has allowed us to generate buzz. Our expectations for 2013 are even higher, as we look forward to activating more Malibu Red programming, including participating in Ne-Yo’s upcoming music tour.

SND: How is the climate for new products in today’s market?

McCann: The biggest challenge to innovation is a cluttered, competitive environment. New products must have a unique but clearly defined proposition. It’s also increasingly challenging to generate consumer awareness in a way that’s relevant. We’ve taken a very active position in digital and social media platforms in order to clearly target our core consumer.

SND: Are there other new products in the pipeline?

McCann: Innovation has been part of Malibu’s DNA in recent years. Expanding the franchise is almost expected by consumers today, so we will certainly continue to seek opportunities to grow the portfolio.

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