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Diageo Launches “Whiskey 5” Retail Program In Bid To Demystify Category

November 21, 2016

Diageo North America is rolling out a new retail initiative intended to educate and guide newer consumers through its expansive whisk(e)y portfolio. The “Whiskey 5” program, debuting this fall, breaks the diverse category into five taste profiles which shoppers can select from to receive recommendations on Diageo whisk(e)y products and cocktail recipes: smooth, spicy, bold, sweet and smoky.

The Whiskey 5 program is currently in about 3,500 retail accounts across all channels in the U.S., with a goal of 5,000 accounts. Diageo tells SND its internal research shows that new users—including Millennials and women consumers—account for roughly a quarter of the whisk(e)y category’s recent growth.

“We saw that new consumers were defaulting to price in their selection. But some whisk(e)y products are very expensive, and it requires confidence in making that purchase decision,” says Steve Wallet, Diageo’s vice president of category development and shopper marketing.

The push includes a mobile-enabled website that encourages sharing on social media, as well as in-store merchandising elements and displays.

The total whisk(e)y category continues to show strength in the U.S. market, with IRI data for the 52 weeks through October 30 showing growth of 3.1% to nearly 10 million nine-liter cases. The Bourbon category has grown by more than 3 million cases over the past five years, while the high-end single malt Scotch segment has added nearly half a million cases, according to Impact Databank.

While Diageo’s Crown Royal Canadian Whisky, Bulleit Kentucky Whiskey and Johnnie Walker Scotch have always been strong at retail, the company says brands like Blade and Bow, Buchanan’s, George Dickel and I.W. Harper, among others, all stand to benefit from Whiskey 5.

Greater experimentation across the portfolio is also targeted at helping Diageo’s Scotch range, as Scotch is a category that can be especially intimidating to new consumers, Wallet adds. —Kimberly Tharel

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