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Flavor Flurry Boosts Growth For Jim Beam

July 15, 2016

With the flavored whiskey category surging in the U.S. market—up 28% to about 8.6 million cases in 2015, according to Impact Databank—several top brands are making rapid gains with a variety of offerings.

Among them, Beam Suntory-owned Jim Beam has been especially active on the flavor front. Jim Beam’s flavor portfolio now accounts for 20% of the brand’s overall volume, and last year it contributed the majority of its growth.

Last August, Beam Suntory introduced Jim Beam Apple (35% abv, $16), and by the end of the year it had reached 140,000 cases in volume, placing it among the top 10 flavored whiskies in the market. “Jim Beam Apple shipments and depletions are on track to double those of our next most successful flavor launch, Red Stag,” says Gigi DaDan, senior director, U.S. for Jim Beam. “And apple whiskey as a flavor segment is on pace to surpass honey as the second-largest flavor in the category.”

Jim Beam Honey, meanwhile, grew nearly 17% to 210,000 cases last year, helping to offset a decline for Red Stag, which slipped 6% to 345,000 cases. So far this year, Jim Beam’s flavored business as a whole is showing solid progress. In NABCA channels in the year-to-date through May, the brand’s flavored lineup is up 50% to 77,000 cases, with declining volume for Jim Beam Maple and Kentucky Fire offset by the strength of Honey and Apple.

While flavor extensions have tended to experience an accelerated life cycle compared with their parent brands—rocketing to big gains in the early years but often flaming out relatively quickly—DaDan says Jim Beam’s flavor stable has expanded the brand’s consumer base. “We’re seeing interest among female consumers, especially those who hadn’t previously tried whiskey, as well as the Hispanic community,” she says. —Kimberly Tharel 

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