Saturday, September 10, 2016

Is The United States Beginning to Lose Its Taste for Flavored Spirits?

     Pernod Ricard has decided to drop the flavored expressions from its Absolut Vodka line.  This was a very surprising move in the category that thrives on flavored expressions.  “We have reviewed price and we have a new campaign with the objective to speak more about the product quality of the brand – something we didn’t speak enough about in the past, which our competitors made sure they did”.   “We have increased media spend behind the brand, we have reduced flavors because there were too many flavors, making more space for more disruptive innovations. “We are on-track to deliver our mid-term objective in the growing vodka category, so I think we are doing the right thing with the brand.”
     Many producers in the rum industry have been spending more on the production and marketing of their premium expressions rather than continuing to develop more of the low cost high volume flavored industrial rum expressions.   This is an attempt to make the customers aware of the taste of fine quality spirits rather than continuing to imbibe sugared and flavored low quality “Kilroy” type expressions.
     There are many spirit categories going down the “rabbit hole” with sugared and flavored spirits these days, but maybe this is the first step in getting back to the basics of the spirits and efforts toward quality and flavor through aging and blending rather than doctoring with artificial stuff.  We are losing out taste for “GMO” foods and I hope that we are losing our taste for artificial spirits as well.

     I want to see this continue to expand in the rum world.  I’m not blind to the need for the flavored industrial rums, but there is a need to market them in a way that makes it clear what you are buying.   Without these high volume expressions,  the majority of the industry would not survive, but we need to be aware of what we are buying.  For me I'm all about the quality expressions, but for the "beginner" sweetness is what they are looking for in whatever spirit they are going to imbibe, so there is a market for them as well.