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Interview, Part 2: Beam Suntory Americas President Tim Hassett

April 13, 2016

In the second part of our interview with Tim Hassett, the Beam Suntory Americas president discusses the group’s heightened focus on the metro on-premise channel, as well as opportunities in Scotch and Japanese whisky.

SND: In the first part of this interview, you referenced a “macro premiumization” strategy for the Beam Suntory portfolio. What kinds of venues and consumer groups are you specifically targeting?

Hassett: It’s a competitive marketplace. Not only is the U.S. the biggest market in the world, but the macroeconomic and consumer tailwinds are more favorable than most markets. One of the things making this marketplace so attractive is the Millennial momentum. We’re focused against that consumer target. We also have a very city-centric focus. All the trends really start in the top 20 markets, which will represent 80% of the growth over the next five to 10 years. We’ve made a lot of adjustments to our route-to-market, putting feet on the street in the top 20 metro areas. And we’re concentrating on the on-premise opportunity. Historically, Beam has been more of an off-premise-focused company. But especially because of the richness of our whisk(e)y portfolio we see massive opportunities on-premise.

SND: Interest in Japanese whisky has been rising lately. How do you plan to leverage Suntory’s strong position in that category, with the Yamazaki, Hibiki and Hakushu brands?

Hassett: We sell every drop of Japanese whisky that we make. The long-range view is that we want to establish Japanese whisky as the next big global category. We’re being very deliberate in how we build it. The on-premise is our initial focus. We’ll have some more news around Japanese whisky in the back half of this year.

SND: Where else do you see untapped opportunities for Beam Suntory?

Hassett: We’ve got amazing assets in the Scotch category, particularly in single malts (including Laphroaig, Bowmore, Ardmore and other brands), so we think that’s a really fertile place to play. From a geography standpoint, we’re underdeveloped in Latin America, and we believe that region holds a lot of promise for us.

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