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New Flavor Explosion Highlights Rum Transformation

April 28, 2011

New flavors and brands have reshaped the rum category—particularly within the target audience of younger, legal-drinking-age consumers. This spring Bacardi is launching the latest flavor in its line, Bacardi Arctic Grape, while Captain Morgan remains heavily focused on Lime Bite, a lime-spiked spiced offering enjoyed with beer or lemon-lime soda. Malibu, meanwhile, is set to launch the seventh flavor in its line, Cranberry Cherry. “Today’s consumer—particularly those from legal drinking age to 29—is seeking variety,” says Toby Whitmeyer, vice president and managing director of rum for Bacardi USA. “Innovation is a major driver in the spirits category, and in rum it’s here to stay.”

Much of the category’s growth is still driven by spiced rum, a segment dominated by Captain Morgan. But the Captain does have company in the segment, with brands like Sailor Jerry, Blackheart, Cruzan 9 and others. Sailor Jerry, an Impact “Hot Brand,” depleted 635,000 cases last year, up 38%.

At the high end, Moët Hennessy continues to see opportunity with 10 Cane, which is in the midst of a major relaunch. Previously a white rum made from pure sugar cane juice, 10 Cane is now gold in color due to the inclusion of extra old rum from the Angostura Distillery in Trinidad. “The old 10 Cane was great for making a Mojito, but it was very limited in the types of rum drinks that worked,” says the brand’s senior business manager Guillaume Grillon. “Mixability and versatility are the name of the game for the new 10 Cane.” The brand’s price also has been adjusted, as it now retails at $24.99-$29.99 a 750-ml. bottle, compared to $34.99 previously.

While the Mojito is as big as ever, three trends have the rum category abuzz: tiki bars, classic drinks and punches. “Mixologists have rediscovered the beauty of exotic juices with rum, and tiki bars are popping up in unexpected locations and environments,” notes Mark Breen, vice president of rums for Diageo North America. Breen and others also note that resurgence in the classic cocktails has started to impact rums. Malibu brand director Lisa McCann cites vodka-based drinks like the Sea Breeze being updated with rum in on-premise accounts. And punches, often including rum mixed with various fruit juices, are growing in popularity, particularly in the on-premise, where consumers often order punch bowls to enjoy with friends. “We’ve had a lot more accounts asking for punch bowls,” says Sailor Jerry brand manager Daniel Deephouse. Whatever the cocktail style, rum appears to be recapturing its role as a spirits trendsetter.

US-Leading Rum Brands*
(thousands of nine-liter cases)
Percent Change
Brand Company 2008 2009 2010E 2008-2009 2009-2010E
Bacardi Bacardi USA, Inc. 9,365 9,400 9,400 0.4%
Captain Morgan Diageo North America 6,075 6,180 6,225 1.7 0.7%
Malibu Pernod Ricard USA 1,630 1,605 1,635 -1.5 1.9
Castillo Bacardi USA, Inc. 1,045 1,045 940 0.0 -10.0
Admiral Nelson Luxco Inc. 415 540 675 30.1 25.0
Cruzan Beam Global Spirits & Wine 585 540 640 -7.7 18.5
Sailor Jerry William Grant & Sons USA 345 460 635 33.3 38.0
Ronrico Beam Global Spirits & Wine 475 440 425 -7.4 -3.4
Total Leading Brands 19,935 20,210 20,575 1.4% 1.8%

* Includes flavors.

Source: Impact Databank

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