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Tequila’s “Hot Brands” Drive Strong Category Growth

March 27, 2017

The Tequila category continues to be one of the hottest areas of the U.S. spirits market, with volume hitting 15.8 million cases on 6.5% growth last year, according to Impact Databank. While top sellers like Jose Cuervo (+4.5% to 3.6 million cases), Patrón (+10% to 2.3 million cases) and Sauza (+7.3% to 2.3 million cases) all posted strong results last year, a host of other Tequila labels are also driving gains across a wide variety of price points.

Tequila fielded four entries among Impact’s recently released “Hot Brands” list for 2016. At the high end, Diageo’s Don Julio accelerated to 21% growth last year, reaching 360,000 cases in the U.S. market, according to Impact Databank. Don Julio has roughly doubled in size in the U.S. since 2011, and is rapidly expanding its presence at the upper level of the category, backed by a five-year, $400 million investment that Diageo announced in 2015.

William Grant & Sons’ Milagro is also in expansion mode, rising 15% to surpass the 200,000-case mark last year. William Grant & Sons president and managing director of North America, Jonathan Yusen, recently told SND, “Milagro benefits from playing at a few different price points. We operate in premium Tequila with the core brand ($25-$44), and also in ultra-premium Tequila with the Milagro Select Barrel Reserve ($53-$99). We’ve seen consumers drawn to both directions of the price spectrum.”

Campari America’s Espolòn debuted as a Hot Brand this year after shooting ahead 38% in 2016 to 200,000 cases, doubling its 2013 volume. The millennial-targeted brand does about 70% of its business in the off-premise and this spring is launching a new 1.75-ml. format to further drive growth in that channel. New York is its largest market, followed by Texas and California. “Espolòn Blanco ($26) continues to lead the brand, representing 60% of the business, but Espolòn’s aged expressions are also enjoying growth,” says Christine Moll, category marketing director of Tequila at Campari America.

Brown-Forman’s returning Tequila Hot Brand El Jimador was up 17% in 2016 to above a half-million cases. The company made its first foray into the flavored Tequila segment in 2014 with the launch of El Jimador Mexican Lime and Mango Mango ($20). In addition to the two flavors, the lineup also includes more traditional Silver, Reposado and Añejo variants.

Meanwhile, Proximo Spirits has tapped into growth within Tequila’s RTD segment, with three pre-mixed Margarita cocktails earning Hot Brands. Jose Cuervo Authentic Margaritas—which includes Pink Lemonade, Classic Lime, Strawberry Lime, Mango, Watermelon, Grapefruit-Tangerine, Lime Light, White Peach Light and Coconut-Pineapple—grew 16% to nearly 1.5 million cases last year. Portfoliomate Jose Cuervo Golden Margaritas—made with Cuervo Gold, Grand Marnier and lime—rebounded with 15% growth to 560,000 cases in 2016, after losing volume the previous two years. Lastly, Proximo’s 1800 Ultimate Margarita continued on its double-digit trajectory with a 10% increase to 330,000 cases in the U.S. in 2016.

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