COMMENT: Whisky - pipe and slippers not required
The biggest problem facing the UK whisky market is that the drink has an elitist, 'pipe and slippers' image which turns off younger drinkers. This image issue was inspiration behind the founding of the Easy Drinking Whisky Company, which aims to turn the image of whisky on its head.
In stark contrast to white spirits and brandy, whisky has conspicuously failed to generate a younger consumer base. In the UK, whisky drinkers are most likely to be over 45 and retired. While the continued ageing of the population mitigates this problem, the industry needs to widen its appeal in order to strengthen its long-term prospects.
According to the Easy Drinking Whisky Company, the solution is to demystify the drink and make it more fun. Its whiskies, which will be launched under the 'John, Mark and Robbo' label, will be called 'The Rich Spicy One', 'The Smokey Peaty One' and 'The Smooth Sweeter One'. As well as being easier to order than Laphroaig, or Bruichladdich, these names have the twin advantages of being both descriptive and irreverent. It is a similar approach to labeling as that that brought the world such wines as Fat Bastard and Old Tart.
Removing the barriers to whisky drinking is a vital step to expanding the market and engaging the interest of younger and more active consumers. However, what is missing is a positive reason for this target market to choose whisky. In the case of white spirits, the growth in 'ready-to-drink' spirits (RTDs) is the product's appeal, based on flavor, calorie content and format, to the growing numbers of young women in pubs and clubs. Cognac and brandy have benefited from their unofficial endorsement by hip-hop stars, which has attracted a whole new consumer group to them. In order to succeed, the Easy Drinking Whisky Company needs to establish exactly what it is that whisky offers to young drinkers that they cannot find elsewhere.
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