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Rum’s Biggest Players Benefit From Off-Premise Bounce

May 12, 2020

While the rum category has struggled to post growth in the U.S. market in recent years, it’s now enjoying a pronounced boost in the off-premise, with volume up nearly 15% in Nielsen channels in the 13 weeks through April 18. That performance included robust growth for the U.S. market’s top three rum brands, with Bacardi up 13%, Captain Morgan rising 15%, and Malibu surging 34%.

Overall, rum slipped 0.5% in the U.S. to just under 22.5 million 9-liter cases last year, according to Impact Databank. Market leader Bacardi enjoyed a return to growth, however, advancing 1.1% to 6.4 million cases to remain about 1 million cases ahead of second-ranked Captain Morgan, which declined 3%.

“If you look back two years, we’ve been steadily gaining share both in the United States and globally,” says Ned Duggan, senior vice president of Bacardi. “We’re very pleased with Bacardi’s market share gains in the last 18 months.” Duggan attributes that growth to the brand’s aggressive focus on recruiting LDA to 25-year-old consumers, as well as innovation in flavors, premium rums, and the ready-to-serve and ready-to-drink segments. “We’ve seen a real interest from consumers in convenience,” Duggan says. “So our ready-to-serve cocktails and RTDs, where Bacardi has traditionally played, will get renewed focus.”

Innovation is also the name of the game for Captain Morgan. “We’re evolving our seasonal liquid strategy and pushing the boundaries with new flavors,” says Christina Choi, Diageo’s senior vice president for rum, gin, and Tequila. Recent flavor forays have included an Orange Vanilla Twist variant for the warmer months and a limited edition Gingerbread Spiced offering over the holidays.

Heaven Hill recently launched the campaign “Make Life Taste Better” behind its Admiral Nelson’s label, which aims to cultivate to the brand’s easy-going image, and has also teamed up with music platform Pandora, media company Whistle, and NFL players Nate Burleson and Anthony “Spice” Adams. This summer, Admiral Nelson’s is highlighting its mixability with spiked seltzer in a cocktail called the No Cola Cuba Libre, which combines the brand’s Spiced expression with lime hard seltzer. “At less than 200 calories, the drink hits on where consumers are today in terms of consumption trends, and we’re pushing it in the off-premise, as well as beyond,” says Hannah Venhoff, group product manager at Heaven Hill.

Malibu is focusing on its flavors, such as the recently launched Strawberry variant that encourages consumers to make easy cocktails like a Strawberry Daiquiri or mix it with soda. In addition, the brand expanded into the RTD segment with its sparkling malt-based Malibu Splash range, which launched in February with Strawberry, Lime, Passion Fruit, and Pineapple expressions. “We’re focused on giving consumers a fun summer full of daytime drinking occasions and products that deliver those experiences,” says brand director Troy Gorczyca.—Amber Drea

U.S.Top 5 Rum Brands (thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand2 Company 2018 2019 Percent
1 Bacardi Bacardi USA 6,370 6,442 1.1%
2 Captain Morgan Diageo North America 5,635 5,465 -3.0%
3 Malibu Pernod Ricard USA 2,109 2,173 3.0%
4 Admiral Nelson’s Heaven Hill Brands 972 982 1.0%
5 Cruzan Beam Suntory 858 843 -1.7%
Total Rum 22,610 22,490 -0.5%
1 Based on unrounded data
2 Includes flavors

Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2020

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