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SPECIAL REPORT: Big Brands Struggle In Impact’s Top 100, But Bourbon Thrives

February 18, 2014

The world’s leading premium spirits brands were largely unable to achieve significant growth in 2013, as economic conditions remained challenging in many mature markets and slowdowns occurred in key emerging markets like China, Brazil and India.

The world’s three biggest premium spirits brands—Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Bacardi—all struggled last year, according to IMPACT DATABANK’s exclusive report on the top 100 premium spirits brands worldwide. The fact that Johnnie Walker leapfrogged Bacardi as the number-two brand even as the Scotch giant remained flat illustrates the rough sledding the global spirits market has endured lately. Smirnoff and Bacardi each lost approximately 700,000 cases in 2013. Meanwhile, Absolut surrendered its long-held number-four slot to Jack Daniel’s, as the iconic vodka brand slipped by 0.4%.

Still, the premium top 100 carved out respectable overall growth in 2013, with aggregate volume increasing by 2.2% to 341 million cases. And much of that growth came in the U.S. market. Eight of the world’s 15 fastest-growing premium spirits brands did the majority of their business in the U.S. last year. And the U.S. is clearly the biggest growth engine for a ninth brand—Pernod Ricard’s Jameson.

In the U.S. and globally, American whisk(e)y is driving global premium spirits growth. Five Bourbon brands were in the premium top 100 rankings in 2013, and all achieved solid growth. Jack Daniel’s was up by 5.1% globally to 11.5 million cases, while archrival Jim Beam grew by 8.9% to 6.9 million cases. Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams jumped by 15.3% to 1.7 million cases while Beam-owned Maker’s Mark rose by 10.7% to 1.4 million cases and Campari’s Wild Turkey advanced by 8% to 1.4 million cases.

Meanwhile, some of those companies’ flavored products are growing so fast that they’re amassing significant volumes of their own. For example, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, which Brown-Forman introduced in 2011, cracked the premium top 100—and the million-case threshold—on the strength of a 45% leap in 2013.

For Impact’s full report on the world’s top 100 spirits brands, see the February 1&15 issue.

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