Craft Spirits and Small Batch Distilling

Women sharing a glass of whiskey

Century-old distilling families and well-established brands are no longer immune to the changing craft beverage landscape. Drinkers are looking for variety and innovation, fueling growth of the hyper-local craft distilling segment as well as huge flavor innovation projects and brand extensions from the largest producers in the U.S. And while the size of the 21-35-year-old segment is significant, competition for trial and purchase is unprecedented and brand loyalty within that segment is virtually impossible. Despite those odds, the U.S. spirits market is expected to reach revenues of more than $20 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 32% during 2018-2023.

Premium and artisanal products (and their associated price point) will continue to be in demand as drinkers seek more occasions for both on- and off-premise consumption. Tasting rooms continue to be a popular outlet to satisfy the need for social, where the experience is just as important as the product in many cases. Distillers, as well as brewers and winemakers, will feel increasing pressure to provide sharable moments in order to remain top-of-mind with volatile and vocal consumers.

This highly-fragmented market will benefit now more than ever from company authenticity and transparency in order to connect with new consumers at an emotional level. Getting the owned media right (including a brand’s website, tasting room experience, social media channels, etc.) should be a primary focus to drive discovery of the brand, followed by a strategic content calendar and marketing strategy.

Scott joined Jim Beam Brands (now Beam Suntory) in 2003 where he was fortunate to work with some of the best agencies to introduce loyalty programs that connected millions of global fans with their favorite wine & spirits brands both online and off. His team integrated retail and ecommerce systems and introduced a contact management and customer service channel using the Talisma platform. As a part of the Global Center of Excellence group Scott introduced tools for defining 3-5 year CRM and engagement strategies, working with legal on compliance with privacy policy and CAN-SPAM.