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William Grant & Sons report highlights impact of social influencers as spirits value growth overtakes wine and beer

Published:  13 July, 2018

A new “Active-ist” consumer mindset is on the rise, one which is more aware of its collective power to demand personalised experiences, shape brands and hold them to account.

Thinking of audiences as active influencers rather than passive consumers was a key part of William Grant & Sons UK’s annual report – the latest from The Balvenie and Hendrick’s Gin maker’s insights team, released today.

The report, which identified three key types of consumer driving the majority of today’s drinking trends, highlighted the way today’s audiences are driving the social change they expect to see, both via social media and their wallets.

Sustainability was a major theme, with digitally savvy consumers seeking out trusted sources which can help them “enjoy life in a sustainable way”.

At the same time, they also look to brands for “highly engaging and personalised experiences” which can help them to enhance their lives and grow their social networks.

Amid political, economic, social and environmental turbulence, this new generation “is incredibly aware of its collective consumer power and its ability to drive change at scale and pace,” said marketing director, Caspar MacRae.

“From the #MeToo movement to single-use plastics, these consumers are determined to make very different choices to positively impact their world.

“With a very real level of expectation, brands and organisations will need to continuously innovate and adapt their experiences, ingredients and communications to ensure they meet the needs of this very discerning and powerful group.”

Elsewhere, the eighth version of the report looked at the performance of spirits within the wider UK BWS category.

According to the findings, spirits is the second largest sector in both the on and off-trade, worth £10.5bn (+5.3% on the previous year), with value growth ahead of total BWS.

For the on-trade, the the largest sector is beer and in the off-trade, wine (exlcuding fortified and sparkling). 

The data uses the moving annual total (MAT) from February 2017 to 2018.

Premiumisation remains a key driver for the spirits market.

Premium spirits (retailing for £23+ per 70cl in the off-trade) have grown their share of the segment in the past year, up 15.8% to £1.4bn, up and accounting for 12% of all spirits value sales.

By channel, the on-trade is driving the majority of the spirits sector’s value growth, while the off-trade is growing at a faster pace year-on-year.

The spirits market in the on-trade is now worth £6.3bn, up +4.9%.

Growth is being driven in this channel by gin (+£181.9m), spiced/flavoured rum (+£46.8m), non-cream liqueurs (+£34.1m), and American whiskey (+£17.2m).

Meanwhile the BWS market grew by almost £618m in the last year in the off-trade, with spirits accounting for almost 40% of the growth.

The fastest growing spirits in the off-trade are once again gin in first place (+35.4%), followed by spiced/flavoured rum (+13.0%) and American whiskey (+11.5%).