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RumChata Revs Up Cream Liqueur Category In Peak Holiday Season

December 27, 2013

With the holidays upon us, it’s now the peak selling season for cream liqueurs. That spirits subcategory was one of the biggest growers in the U.S. market last year, rising by 10% to 3.14 million cases, according to Impact Databank. However, nearly all of the top-selling cream liqueurs—including Baileys, E&J Cask & Cream, Carolans, St. Brendan’s and Emmets, among others—have either declined or achieved only modest advances of late. In fact, nearly all of cream liqueurs’ recent growth has come from a single brand—RumChata, a 13.5%-abv horchata-style offering marketed by Agave Loco Brands. And that upstart brand, which retails for around $20 a 750-ml., has continued charging full-speed ahead as 2013 comes to a close.

After selling just 17,000 cases in the U.S. in 2010—its first full year on the market—RumChata jumped to 65,000 cases in 2011. However, that progress was nothing compared to 2012, when the brand recorded a near six-fold rise to 365,000 cases to earn Impact “Hot Brand” recognition. Last year’s eye-catching growth occurred despite RumChata’s limited availability around the U.S. market. This year, Agave Loco has made a concerted effort to expand the brand’s presence on retail shelves across the country, and the company reports that RumChata is available in an additional 5,000 off-premise locations this holiday season.

In both the on- and off-premise, RumChata is benefiting from its informal association with Fireball, the U.S. market’s hottest spirits brand. The cream liqueur and the cinnamon whisky liqueur are frequently being mixed for shot consumption. For the 52 weeks ending November 3, Fireball was up by more than 300% in IRI channels, while RumChata rose by 85% during the same period.

With RumChata sharply on the rise, Agave Loco has put more advertising support behind the brand. In recent days, the company unveiled a radio ad campaign featuring “tongue-in-cheek public service announcements from the ‘Emergency Holiday Cheer System’” urging consumers to pick up a bottle of RumChata before stock sells out. The spots will run in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, with content tailored to each market and placed on stations running holiday music formats.

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