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Impact Databank: Jim Beam Riding High, But Red Stag Takes A Step Back

April 2, 2014

Credited with reinvigorating the Jim Beam brand and launching the flavored whiskey craze across the U.S. spirits market, Red Stag by Jim Beam saw its upswing interrupted last year. Just a year after posting a 36% advance—and roughly doubling its volume from 2010-2012—Red Stag slipped 5% to 326,000 cases in the U.S. in 2013, according to Impact Databank.

Beam Inc.’s general manager for whiskies, Chris Bauder, tells SND that while Red Stag remains the category’s largest flavored Bourbon by volume and value, “We’ve seen a number of flavored whiskies and whiskey liqueurs hit the market” since its launch, with competition intensifying as a result. Jim Beam is reloading with flavored options outside the Red Stag banner, he added, including Jim Beam Honey and Jim Beam Maple, both of which are seeing “rapid distribution and growth.” Jim Beam Honey has been the best-performing new spirits brand over the last 52 weeks in Nielsen channels.

While Red Stag encountered some difficulties last year, the core Jim Beam brand had a strong showing, rising 5.8% to 3.7 million cases in the U.S. on the way to earning an Impact “Hot Brand” award. That growth is due in part to an influx of new, younger consumers, who are drawn to the brand’s heritage and authenticity message. Jim Beam’s first global marketing campaign, “Make History,” which debuted last year, has been met with an “overwhelmingly positive” response, Bauder says, and underscores that message.

Among its unflavored brand offshoots, Beam’s higher-proof Devil’s Cut variant continues to post impressive growth, jumping 50% to 115,000 cases last year. “We see Devil’s Cut and Jim Beam White as having two separate consumer groups,” Bauder explains, with Devil’s Cut appealing to whiskey drinkers looking for “a premium option with a bolder taste profile.”

Meanwhile, on the new product front, the Jim Beam franchise will ladder upward with the national rollout of its first single-barrel offering next month. Hand-bottled and hand-numbered, Jim Beam Single Barrel follows another upscale release from the brand, Jim Beam Signature Craft, which launched last fall. Bauder says other innovations on Jim Beam are slated to hit the market later in the year.

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