The Captain has left the building

The last posting about Seagram and vodka neglected to point out that while there were difficulties in the category (pre Absolut) the company had phenomenal growth with Seagram’s Gin, Crown Royal and Captain Morgan.

In fact, Captain Morgan is a case study — in spirits and other businesses — about how to develop, nurture and grow a brand when all oars in the water are pulling in the same direction. I’ll go into this in more detail another time.

For now, let’s look at some numbers.

Currently, Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum plus Parrott Bay sells over 6 million cases in the US. But, for the first time in its history, the brand had a down year in 2009. This is probably due, in part, to the economy but also a function of the growth of Rum brands like Sailor Jerry and Admiral Nelson — both brands grew by double digits from ’08 to ’09.

Further, from the birth of the brand until the close of Seagram, Captain Morgan had a Compound Annual Growth Rate of over 16%. For the past 8 or 9 years the CAGR was less than half of that.

Could be due to a number of things…a new generation of drinkers with new Rum tastes and interests, a changing competitive climate, the inevitability of brand life cycles, portfolio focus elsewhere, all of the above and other reasons.

For those who worked on the brand back in the day, I’d bet that among the most vivid recollections is hitting the million cases mark. It took well over ten years for the brand to hit that number in 1995. But it took much less time to hit two million cases.

In fact, between the planning for a million cases celebration and the event itself, the brand doubled its volume.

That, my friends, is called momentum.

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