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Kendall Jenner Aims To Make 818 “The Tequila For The Next Generation”

March 7, 2023

Amid a wave of celebrity-backed spirits launches over the past several years, Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila has gained notable traction, surging 70% to above 100,000 cases in the U.S. in 2022, according to Impact Databank, in its first full year on the market. This year the brand’s marketers are intent on furthering that progress both in the U.S. and internationally, leveraging Jenner’s celebrity and devoted fan base.

Nationally distributed by Southern Glazer’s, 818 rolled out in May of 2021 starting in Southern California and has quickly expanded its footprint and visibility, garnering an Instagram following of 1.1 million. The range includes Blanco ($45 a 750-ml.), Reposado ($55), and Añejo ($65) expressions, and was recently extended with Eight Reserve by 818, retailing at $200. “The ultra-premium Tequila marks an expansion into a space that has many entrants but is dominated by only a few competitors,” the company notes, adding that Eight Reserve will be expanding nationally this year.

According to Larry Goodrich, the Southern Glazer’s veteran who now serves as CEO of 818, the brand is quickly gaining prominence, benefiting from Jenner’s global profile and audience. “I have launched many new brands over the 46 years I worked in the wholesale tier,” he tells SND, “and I have never seen so much brand awareness in such a short amount of time.” Vice president of marketing Kathleen Braine adds, “We have consumers throwing 818 bachelorettes, birthdays, graduation parties, and more every day.”

E-commerce has been a particular strength for 818, with its repurchase rate on Drizly averaging 40%, and the new Eight Reserve offering driving gains on ReserveBar. According to the company, 818 ranked fifth last year among all Tequilas by dollar sales sold through ReserveBar and their partner store.

As 818 continues to go deeper in the U.S., international expansion is also part of the gameplan. The brand’s sales outside the U.S. registered approximately 20,000 cases last year. “Tequila as a category is very small outside of North America and is growing rapidly,” says president and COO Mike Novy. “But just like in the U.S., not all Tequila brands generate a high level of consumer excitement. 818 resonates globally.” The company is using social media inbounds and global purchase request data to map out its international expansion plan, debuting in markets like Canada, the Caribbean, China, and Dubai, with the U.K. to be added soon.

“We have a small but mighty team and have built a highly engaged brand community,” says Jenner. “I am so incredibly proud of the success of 818 so far. We also pride ourselves in prioritizing the Earth in all that we do, something that was very important to me as a first-time founder.” Among the brand’s sustainability initiatives is a partnership with non-profit S.A.C.R.E.D (Saving Agave for Culture, Recreation, Education, and Development), in which agave waste and other byproducts from Tequila production are converted into building materials like bricks and donated to community initiatives across Mexico.—Daniel Marsteller

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