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Ultra-Premiums Are Fastest Growing Spirits Segment, According To Latest Nielsen Numbers

October 10, 2011

Total spirits sales grew 3.2% by volume in the 52-week period ending September 17, 2011 to 57.6 million cases, according to the latest figures from Nielsen. Growth was even faster in dollars, up 3.8% to $8.35 billion. Ultra-premium spirits (average price of $35.38 a 750-ml. bottle) comprised less than 5% of overall volume but represented the fastest-growing segment in the 52-week period, up 11.7% by volume. Value-priced spirits (averaging $6.61 a bottle) showed the slowest growth, up 1.7%.

The 1.75-liter bottle was the biggest-selling size in Nielsen channels, but 750-ml. bottles showed the best growth—another sign that the market is continuing to premiumize even in an uncertain economy.

Based on the most recent four- and 13-week Nielsen periods, prepared cocktails were the fastest-growing spirits type by both volume and dollar sales. Skinnygirl Margarita led the growth charge during the key summer-selling season.

The fastest-growing spirits types by volume in the 52-week period were Irish whiskey (+21.5%), prepared cocktails (+15.2%), Cognac (+9.6%) and Tequila (+5.1%). Flavored vodkas (+17.1%) outperformed regular vodkas (+2.7%), and flavored rums (+4.5%) outperformed regular rums (-1.9%). Other declining types include gin (-1.9%), Scotch whisky (-1.1%) and non-Cognac brandy (-2.4%).

The Nielsen channels include food stores, drugstores, liquor stores and other select channels and account for 30% of the total U.S. spirits market by volume, as estimated by Impact.

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