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Gin Shows Robust Growth At The Super-Premium Tier

November 26, 2019

Gin remains split along price lines, as most super-premium-and-above brands maintain steady growth while lower-priced labels continue to slide. Though it has only recently shown signs of a comeback in the U.S., gin’s popularity in European countries—particularly its recent surge in the U.K.—has marketers hoping those favorable trends will carry over to the U.S. in the coming years.

The total gin category in the U.S. declined 1% to 9.25 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank, but the outlook is brighter at the high end, where the leading super-premium brands grew 4% to 3.15 million cases, increasing super-premium’s share to 33% of the total category.

The top three super-premium brands—Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, and Hendrick’s—account for 88% of U.S. gin volume above $20 a 750-ml., and 30% of the total category. A number of smaller players are also advancing as gin continues to make inroads in the on-premise. “Tanqueray is experiencing double-digit growth in many of our global markets behind trade and consumer trends that we’re also seeing begin to take hold here in the U.S.,” says senior brand manager Dany Penn. “We’re energized by the momentum and feel confident in our strategies to drive gin’s resurgence in the States.”

Tanqueray recently unveiled “Gin Is In,” a new U.S. ad campaign seeking to highlight the Tanqueray & Tonic cocktail. Also, in August, Tanqueray launched a new flavored expression. Distilled four times with the essence of orange, Tanqueray Sevilla Orange was initially released in select Florida markets. Tanqueray rose 0.7% in the U.S. to just under 1.4 million cases in 2018, according to Impact Databank, and saw low single-digit volume growth in NABCA channels in the year-to-date through September.

Ranked second in the super-premium segment, Bacardi-owned Bombay Sapphire is closing in on the million-case mark. Volume was up 1.3% to nearly 950,000 cases last year, and the brand grew 2.5% in control states in the first nine months of this year. “We’re seeing more and more millennials entering the gin category as they seek to explore spirits with more flavor and character,” says brand director Tom Spaven. “Bombay Sapphire continues to see success in North America, growing market share against our key competitors.”

Hendrick’s, part of the William Grant & Sons portfolio, could reach 500,000 cases in the U.S. this year if current trends hold. The brand surged 16% in control states in the year-to-date through September, on top of a 19% increase to 440,000 cases market-wide in 2018. “Half of our business remains in the on-trade,” notes senior brand manager Paige Parness.

Hendrick’s has introduced two new limited-edition line extensions in recent months: Orbium and Midsummer Solstice. Infused with quinine, wormwood, and lotus blossom, Orbium is aimed mainly at upscale bar accounts as a specialty cocktail gin, while Midsummer Solstice ($35 a 750-ml.) marks the first release in Hendrick’s master distiller Lesley Gracie’s Cabinet of Curiosities series. “Midsummer is a lighter, crisper take on the typical Hendrick’s house style,” Parness says.

Outside the top three, numerous brands are making gains at gin’s $20-and-up tier, among them Boodles (Proximo), Aviation (Davos Brands), Martin Miller’s (Zamora Co. USA), Plymouth (Pernod), Citadelle (Maison Ferrand USA), Fords (Brown-Forman), Bluecoat (Samson & Surrey), Prairie Organic (Phillips), and Drumshanbo (Taub Family). Impact has a full report in its November 15 issue.—Danny Sullivan

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