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Whiskies Make Strong Statement, Leading “Blue Chip Brands” List

October 11, 2011

Vodka is surely still king in the U.S. spirits market, but Impact’s exclusive “Blue Chip Brands” report shows that whisk(e)y is holding its own among the ranks of the biggest and best-performing brands. Six whiskies earned a spot on the latest Blue Chip list, outpacing vodka, which had five honorees. The Blue Chip whiskies are: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey, Evan Williams and Maker’s Mark Bourbons, Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky, Jameson Irish whiskey and Crown Royal Canadian whisky. On the vodka side, there’s Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Svedka, Skyy and Ketel One.

Rum was also well represented, with three Blue Chip entries: Bacardi, Captain Morgan and Malibu. Two Tequilas made the list—Patrón and 1800—as did Hennessy Cognac, E&J brands, Jägermeister liqueur and Bombay gin. In all, 20 spirits brands achieved Blue Chip status by meeting the following criteria: at least 500,000 case depletions in 2010; at least $25 million in gross margin; and either 10 years or more of consecutive growth, or average annual compound growth of at least 2.5% from 2000-2010 with at least 8 yearly increases in the past 10 years.

Spirits’ Blue Chip Brands are marketed by a diverse range of companies, with 13 marketers appearing on the list at least once. Diageo led the way with five entries, but no other competitor had more than two. Meanwhile, the vast majority of honorees spent a considerable sum on media advertising in 2010, even as the market’s economic conditions remained difficult and belt-tightening was widespread. Some 16 of the Blue Chip Brands spent more than $5 million on media advertising in 2010, according to Impact Databank and Kantar Media, while nine of those were above the $10 million threshold. A report on wine’s Blue Chip Brands will be appearing later this week. The full analysis and report on the spirits, wine and beer Blue Chip Brands will appear in the November 1 issue of Impact.

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