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Amid A Struggling Rum Category, Premium Players Make Solid Gains

July 12, 2016

While achieving growth has been a challenge for the U.S. rum category recently, its leading brands above the $15 price point are generating positive momentum. According to Impact Databank, the top five rums retailing at above $15 carved out an aggregate 3% volume gain in the U.S. last year, compared with a 1.8% decline for the overall category.

Leading the way in the $15-and-above range is Pernod Ricard’s Malibu, which, after faltering in 2014, enjoyed 4% growth last year. One of the more prolific players in terms of new product development, Malibu has added low-calorie entry Malibu Island Spiced ($17), bubbly coconut water-infused Malibu Rum Sparkler ($17) and Malibu Pineapple Upside Down Cake ($15), among other recent launches. Pernod has also unveiled a new seasonal campaign in the U.S., titled “Because Summer,” to buttress Malibu’s progress.

Another rung up the pricing ladder is Proximo’s super-premium The Kraken (around $20), which has emerged as one of rum’s most dynamic brands. A 94-proof spiced rum, The Kraken has benefited from the U.S. market’s brown spirits trend, as well as its premium, craft-like positioning. Between 2010 and 2015, the brand more than quadrupled in size, reaching 360,000 cases last year. In an effort to leverage The Kraken’s appeal, Proximo recently debuted a 70-proof version.

Campari America’s Appleton Estate is also showing traction at the super-premium end, tacking on a 6.8% gain in 2015. Since acquiring Appleton in its $415-million deal for Jamaica’s Lascelles de Mercado in 2013, Campari has overhauled the lineup—which now includes a Signature Blend, Reserve Blend and Rare Blend 12-year-old ($22-$38)—and rebranded its Appleton Jamaica Rum Special and White labels, placing them under the umbrella of rum portfoliomate J. Wray & Nephew. Christine Moll, category marketing director, rum, for Campari America, told SND the changes are intended to underscore Appleton’s premium positioning.

While the above-$15 rum category has been making strides, one of the segment’s star performers has hit a roadblock. After years of impressive gains, William Grant & Sons’ Sailor Jerry brand has slumped, dropping 4.6% by volume last year. The high-proof, spiced rum aims to return to growth this summer, recently unveiling a new Americana-inspired limited edition bottle ($16). “Summer is the sweet spot for rum sales,” says Josh Hayes, Sailor Jerry’s senior brand manager. “Our spring months yielded very encouraging numbers both in Nielsen and in depletions, and we anticipate a very strong summer.” While Sailor Jerry has encountered choppy waters, upscale William Grant portfoliomate Flor de Caña has continued on a strong upward trajectory, advancing by 10% to 110,000 cases in the U.S. last year. —Christina Jelski

U.S. – Top Five Rum Brands Retailing At $15 And Above Per 750ml1
(thousands of nine-liter case depletions)
Percent Change2
Rank Brand Company 2013 2014 2015 2013-2014 2014-2015
1 Malibu Pernod Ricard USA 1,876 1,833 1,909 -2.3% 4.2%
2 Sailor Jerry William Grant & Sons USA 732 752 718 2.8% -4.6%
3 The Kraken Proximo Spirits 270 320 360 18.5% 12.5%
4 Myers’s Diageo North America 245 240 245 -2.0% 2.0%
5 Appleton Campari America 195 205 219 5.1% 6.8%
Total Top Five 3,318 3,350 3,451 1.0% 3.0%
1 based on average price of entire brand line, including all variants/flavors.
2 based on unrounded data.Source: IMPACT DATABANK


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