Food for thought from just-drinks whisky survey

Food for thought from just-drinks'' whisky survey

Almost a third of the Scotch whisky industry believes that the current discounting and promotional environment in Europe is unsustainable, according to a just-drinks survey.

The figures come from a survey of whisky sector readers of just-drinks, which was run ahead of this year's World Whiskies Conference in Glasgow. just-drinks presented the survey's findings at the conference yesterday (21 April).

The survey asked readers how they would rate the current discounting and promotional environment. Only about a quarter - 26% - said it was normal, while around 42% said it was highly competitive but under control. 32% of respondents said it was unsustainable.

In terms of the future of Scotch marketing, the survey also quizzed the industry over the use of Scotch in cocktails and the potential for an industry marketing board to run generic advertising.

Mixability and cocktail usage has been widely mooted as one path toward broader acceptance of Scotch in its mature markets, particularly among entry-level consumers. However, some marketers believe that the strong taste of Scotch tends to overwhelm mixers and does not easily lend itself to mixing.

When asked whether industry marketing efforts should focus on mixability and cocktail usage to a greater extent, 65% said they should, with only 29% saying no.

A lack of investment and innovation has also played a role in Scotch’s under-performance in these mature markets.

The survey asked the industry how they would rate the state of innovation in the blended Scotch sector compared with other categories for each of the following: product development, marketing and growth strategies.

In terms of product development, 27% returned that they thought it was good. Some 37% believed it was indifferent and another 27% believed it was bad. For marketing, the industry rated better, with 37% believing it was good, 38% voted for indifferent and only 21% saw it as bad. Finally, in terms of its growth strategies, 27% believed the industry's innovation in the area was good. Close to 42% believed it was indifferent and 22% thought it was bad.

However, when asked whether the industry should move away from age statements in its marketing communications, just over 60% said no, with only 34% saying yes.

And, although a Scotch Whisky Association working party recently decided against launching a body to control generic marketing, the survey reported that 56% of just-drinks whisky readers thought there should be a generic marketing campaign for Scotch, with only 29% arguing against it.

A total of 202 readers of just-drinks whisk(e)y pages answered the survey.