Diversity Booze – Who Drinks What and Why?

multiWine & Spirits Daily had a terrific article last week titled, “Capitalizing on the Growing Ethnic Trend.”

The article includes data on the growth rates and buying power of the Latino, African American, and Asian consumer markets. Further, it reports on data gathered by Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) and describes who drinks what.

Some of the reported drinking habits are well known to spirits marketers and some show shifts from the past.

A few highlights from the article:

What I find so interesting is that compared to the past, while there are some diverse drinking preferences, everyone drinks everything. There are differences but not as sharp as I’ve seen years ago.

So permit me to add some comments and cautions concerning marketing to diverse population segments.

The Latino/Hispanic market is not one market.

It is a diverse group of consumers consisting of those from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America, Cuba, and other Caribbean Islands. Further, these sub-segments are geographically dispersed so the Mexican American consumers in Texas, for example, are different from those in Chicago or LA.

The African American consumer category and brand preferences also vary by geography and urban, suburban and rural residence.

And along with that the  “Asian” category doesn’t account for consumers from China, South Korea, Philippines and other countries that each have there own cultures and customs.

The point is, a smart brand builder pays attention to diverse consumer markets as a starting point, but understands that further knowledge (micro marketing) is necessary.

A Memorable Experience in Ethnic Marketing Research:

I was conducting focus groups on behalf of Patron Tequila when Seagram had the brand. The research was among Anglo and Mexican American consumers. At the time, Patron was only just beginning to grow and we wanted to know attitudes and perceptions about the brand. filepicker_KNHm8ETTwyz9U3ePFuyt_patron

Many Anglo consumers told us that their favorite brands were those they believed to be “authentic” tequilas and brands like Cazadores and Herradura were mentioned. But, so was Patron.

At the time Patron was not available in Mexico (except for Duty Free) and was only an export product. Yet, it’s name and packaging made it ”authentic” tequila.

Among the Mexican American consumers, the attitudes became even more telling. Those who strongly maintained their Mexican identity stuck with brand preferences from “back home.” But, second and third generation Mexican Americas (those more assimilated rather than acculturated) also added Patron to their repertoire. When challenged about the lack of heritage for Patron, the most frequent reply was, “Hey, my Anglo friends drink it so it must be good.

So, looking at the market from a diversity standpoint is great but it’s critical to remember that there are many layers to a culture and one size doesn’t fit all.

The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender)  market also make up a very interesting drinking segment of the population and are also a deeply layered group of communities. Ah, but that’s a subject for another posting.

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Booze to Broadway to Booze Again

Wine and Spirits Daily and Shanken Daily News have each had stories on
Hiro Sake and its co-founder, Carlos Arana. In fact, there’s been quite a bit
of press about them lately.

Since I’ve known Carlos for most of my booze business days, I thought I would chime in.

At Seagram, Carlos and I suffered through the foibles of our Latin American boss and managed to survive the adventures of Patron in the early days. Carlos went on to run the Asia-Pacific whiskey business.

Next came an 8-year stint with the Beckmann family running the tequila business with impressive results and literally put Jose Cuervo on the global map. He managed to double sales and triple profits and increased market share by five percentage points. Not shabby.

A brief tour of duty as President of the Arnell Group was enough to convince him that doing your own thing is far more rewarding than working in a corporate setting.

So, enter Broadway and Hiro Sake.

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Tequila Sunrise, Ascent, or Hype?

Wine and Spirits Daily had a story last week entitled, IS TEQUILA THE NEW VODKA?

Good question.

The article quoted a writer at the Washington Post who said… “A new trend emerges: the proliferation of ‘ultra-premium’ tequilas targeted at a club crowd that slowly has begun to trade in Grey Goose for Patron.” The article goes on to point out that “various social indicators, such as Al Roker claiming on the Today Show that Tequila is the new Vodka.” (I must have missed the announcement about Al Roker as social forecaster. I thought he did the weather.)

A few observations:

Drinking Patron at clubs at the expense of Vodka brands like Grey Goose is not a new concept. They are often interchangeable depending on the mood and occasion. Both brands are at the top of the heap in terms of being icons.

Further, it’s not Tequila, it’s Patron. Generally speaking, among most consumers, the Tequila category has three brands…Patron, Cuervo and all others. Remember the old adage? Consumers drink brands not categories.

Tequila will grow as it continues to be the focus of new product introductions and in that regard, it will be the new Vodka. I don’t have the actual data but I’d bet there have been more new Tequilas introduced in the last few years than Vodka. The shifts in Vodka preferences from the high end to mid-priced and value brands make new Tequila entries more enticing.

So, among most consumers, Vodka will continue to rule. Whether Al Roker thinks so or not.

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