American Bourbons use innovation to drive growth

NEW DELHI: Flavoured whiskeys are internationally the fastest growing segment in the bourbon industry and the trend is soon catching up in India.  

The growing affluence, international travel and increased brand awareness amongst Indian consumers and the increasing base of the legal drinking age (LDA) population in India, the industry is seeing regular shifts in consumer preferences. The curiosity and aspirational value of a scotch whisky is still relevant to younger consumers.

According to Nielson research, in 2012 flavoured whiskey accounted for nearly 75 per cent of growth among all whiskeys and 42 per cent of growth in bourbon.

In a major departure from its decades old marketing principles of remaining strictly tradition-bound and consistent in taste, bourbon brands are now experimenting with tastes to expand their market and customer base.  

Jim Beam, from the house of world’s fourth largest liquor company Beam Global, for instance,   has added new products that include a white whiskey called Jacob‘s Ghost, Devil’s Cut and Jim Beam Honey. The company believes that the move will expand both its presence on the shelves as well as increase its consumer base.

Jim Beam is no exception. World over major whiskey brands are increasingly shedding their past conditioning about sacrosanct blends and trying sweetening and flavoring their whiskies. And no wonder, the experimentation with taste is begetting them success.  

In fact, Canada too has got into the act and most of its contributors are informed, predictably by maple syrup. Distillers around the world are sugaring and flavouring whiskeys. Red Stag, the cherry-flavoured bourbon released by Jim Beam in 2009 was a huge success and set the trail blazing.

A closer look into the factor that has encouraged these ‘cult’ brands to shun their inhibitions and emerge as ‘innovative’ and ‘out of the box brands’ shows that the customer and his aspirations have evolved.

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