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Premium-Plus Liqueurs Poised For Holiday Gains

November 23, 2021

2020 was a tough year for the liqueurs category as a whole, as the pandemic caused a 3% decline in their U.S. depletion volume to 17.4 million 9-liter cases, according to Impact Databank. Premium-plus brands ($15 and over a 750-ml. bottle) fared even worse, as the on-premise suffered greatly and the upscale segment fell a combined 4% last year. But the premium-plus sector has seen recovery in 2021, and the upcoming holidays will further boost growth prospects as the on-premise continues to rebound.

Baileys, the signature cream liqueur from Diageo, has been bolstered by several new line extensions and limited edition offerings—particularly Deliciously Light, Apple Pie, and Colada. Baileys volumes fell globally last year, but are at record levels in the U.S., with another all-time high expected this year. “As dessert and treating trends have gained popularity, Baileys has thrived as the ultimate go-to indulgence,” says Stacey Cunningham, brand director for Baileys & Liqueurs at Diageo NA. “Since pivoting to a presence in the everyday adult treating space several years ago, Baileys has been able to focus on our key performance drivers, which has resulted in continued momentum year over year.”

Pernod Ricard’s Kahlúa bucked the downward trend last year with a 15% gain to over 900,000 cases, according to Impact Databank. “We have a very exciting new campaign launching this holiday season, which showcases the brand’s fun, playful nature,” says Rima Sawaya, senior brand manager at Pernod Ricard. “Additionally, we’re partnering with our friends on Absolut Vodka and taking part in their Espresso Martini program this holiday season, which highlights this year’s fastest growing cocktail.”

Similarly, RumChata—the market’s second-largest premium-plus cream—is building on a successful 2020 campaign after having been acquired by Gallo earlier this year. Jägermeister endured a tough year in 2020 but has made moves to reverse its fortunes by launching Cold Brew Coffee and by extending its higher-end Manifest extension.

Among other premium-plus brands, Disaronno has also performed well, and its Velvet cream offshoot—the first line extension in the 500-year history of the brand—has helped boost Disaronno to a solid 7.4% gain year-to-date in control states, according to NABCA. Even higher up the pricing ladder, upscale liqueurs priced at least $30 a bottle continue to do well also. Campari’s Grand Marnier is poised for its seventh consecutive year of growth in 2021, according to Impact Databank. And after rising more than 15% last year in depletion volume terms, Cointreau liqueur is up 17.6% through the first nine months of this year in control states.—Danny Sullivan

U.S.—Top Five Premium-Plus Liqueurs1
Rank Brand Company Origin Total 2020
Case Volume2
2021 YTD
Percent Change
in Control States3
1 Baileys Diageo Ireland 1,515 8.4%
2 Jägermeister Mast-Jägermeister US Germany 1,150 3.8%
3 Kahlúa Pernod Ricard Mexico 920 3.8%
4 RumChata4 E.&J. Distillers Domestic 550 5.1%
5 Grand Marnier Campari France 540 18.0%
Total Top Five 4,675 6.3%
1 $15 & over a 750-ml.
2 Thousands of 9-liter case depletions.
3 Year-to-date through September.
4 Acquired from Agave Loco Brands in 2021.
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