The beverage business blog from Andy Morton
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Oregon's big idea - the wine growler
07 Jan 2013 15:45
Oregon's winemakers have enjoyed a decent run in recent times. Figures released by the region's trade body last month showed that volumes and sales rose by 9% in 2011.
But to keep up that momentum, the Oregon Winegrowers Association (OWA) has unveiled a new secret weapon: the wine "growler".
Based on the half-gallon jug-like container traditionally used to transport beer in the US, also known as a growler, the wine version can hold up four-times that, but is still reusable.
The OWA, which prides itself on its innovation, foresees refilling spigots in wine shops, grocery stores, restaurants and bars. It hopes it will save on glass wastage and give the state a marketable idea, while the group is confident it will catch on elsewhere.
The growler is already available from on-site stores at a few Oregon wineries, but the OWA is backing a state bill to extend their use.
If the bill is approved, expect to see Oregon growlers before the end of the summer.
PepsiCo's 'drinkify' is no core strategy, but has Asian appeal
02 Jan 2013 16:29
The term 'Drinkify' popped up in a few end-of-year review lists, but it seems the new trend for “liquid snacks” apparently being pushed by PepsiCo's CEO Indra Nooyi is neither new nor trending.
The Financial Times flagged up the term last month after Nooyi mentioned it in an industry conference speech. The newspaper said PepsiCo was embarking on a strategy of combining its food and beverages to come up with products such as drinkable oatmeal. Before too long, other media picked up on the report and were running with the idea, often towards some rather imaginative Dr Moreau-style snack and drink hybrids. Think Pepsi-flavoured crisps or Frito-laced cola, if you dare.
Turns out PepsiCo have been thinking along these lines for some time now, since at least 2010, when it bought Russian dairy, baby food and juice manufacturer Wimm-Bill-Dann, a company spokesperson told me. The FT report “was wrong and taken out of context”, the spokesperson said. “The background is that it's not a core strategy. It was just a one-liner at a beverage conference.”
That's not to say we'll never get the chance to try out Diet Frito Pepsi, though we may have to live in Asia. Innovation is a big deal to PepsiCo in developing markets, as shown by the opening of a US$40m research & development centre in Shanghai in November.
The company is proud of the brand loyalty it has built up in China through aggressive marketing and hopes combining those brands can bring exponential rewards. Tastes in Asia differ from PepsiCo's core US market - check out these cheese lobster Lays - and it will use the R&D hub to test what works and what doesn't. Maybe cheese-flavoured soft drinks is just what the region has been waiting for.
Adverts, with an accent on the ridiculous
28 Nov 2012 17:29
Drinks advertising campaigns never fail to surprise in their approach to consumers.
The industry may be global, covering Kansas to Karachi, but as far as advertising agencies and marketing departments are concerned Scotch is still made by rugged Scots in pretty glens and Bourbon by lumberjacks on their day off.
Basically, we're all a bunch of hometown rubes.
Which is why consumers are subjected to an unflinching barrage of accents and dialects in alcohol advertising. Some of them are good. Take, for example, this Canadian Club digital ad released today, with some solid Canadian inflections from the actor on duty. Some are less good. Have a look at this butchering of the Scottish accent, which in comparison makes Mel Gibson's Braveheart sound like Susan Boyle.
SABMiller's rough guide to beer making in South Sudan
15 Nov 2012 15:59
It is the ultimate emerging market. South Sudan only became a country in July last year but it already has its own beer, thanks to a SABMiller plant near the capital Juba. This report from Zimbabwe's Daily Maverick, which interviewed the plant's South African boss Ian Alsworth-Elvey, gives some idea of what it must be like to work in a virtually lawless environment, with bad roads and no power.
So why do it? “The cost of doing business here is high,” Alsworth-Elvey says. “But the returns are commensurate (to that cost).”
AG Barr and Britvic show auld enemies should be forgot
14 Nov 2012 16:12
Britvic and AG Barr have proved that England and Scotland CAN work together to form a stronger union, in their case today's announcement to form one of Europe's biggest soft drinks makers.
In the spirit of the day, just-drinks made its own entente cordiale (or should that be cordial?) across Hadrian's Wall - a joint byline on the merger story shared between myself (a Scot) and James Wilmore (a Sassenach).
Are you watching, Alex Salmond?
TFWA - The bubble continues
26 Oct 2012 16:21
Friday, the sixth and final day of TFWA, and as the heavens open above Cannes, just-drinks joins everyone in packing up and heading home.
The consensus seems to be that its been a good exhibition, another chance to meet with a wide range of clients and see some familiar faces.
If there has been an overarching trend, it's the continuation of travel retail innovations, or "differentiation" as Diageo called it at the launch of its exclusive-to-airports Johnnie Walker collection. Travel retail units are still chasing Russians and Chinese around the globe, whether they are ditching Egypt for Thailand or Turkey, while newly-affluent customers in Africa, such as Nigerians, are becoming increasingly talked about.
New technology is also starting to filter in and firms are slowly becoming aware of its potential. On a wider scale, the sector still seems to be in a bubble and less prone to economic headwinds felt elsewhere in the drinks market.
And, everyone we spoke to at the exhibition seemed confident that will continue, to next year at least.
TFWA - Diageo prepares for a travel retail journey
25 Oct 2012 07:28
Diageo's global travel retail head, Roland Abella, was in a bullish mood last night (24 October).
“I like to take risks,” he said at the unveiling in Cannes of the Johnnie Walker Explorers Club Collection, his company's biggest travel retail launch. “If we fail, then we will learn from it. But, I hope we won't.”
He's unlikely to fail with the Explorers Club, a premium blended Scotch range exclusive to the travel retail sector that claims to tap into the “romance of travel”. The question is: why has it taken Diageo so long to come up with a collection like this?
As Abella said, the strategy in travel retail today is differentiation; trying to give the target Asian and Russian airline passengers something they can't get at home.
Aside from the question of whether non-Western cultures can identify with the Victorian-tinged view of travel Diageo is peddling with its Silk Road, Royal Route and Gold Route lines in the Explorers Club, the collection ticks all the modern boxes. The packaging is colourful, it comes with an off-the-peg story behind it and it's expensive, from US$43 to $159.
After the launch, Abella told just-drinks that “geographies don't mean anything anymore”, highlighting Diageo's one-size-fits-all approach to travel retail and why this new collection is being released in all global markets.
That's not a view shared across the Scotch industry. Morrison Bowmore Distillers said yesterday that regional market trends do seep into travel retail, but it'll no doubt work for the Explorers Club, especially with the marketing clout of Diageo behind it.
"This is our big play for the foreseeable future," said Diageo's Global travel and Middle East marketing director, Steve White. It appears then, that Diageo is setting sail on its own journey.
Fetch me my binoculars.
TFWA - a different world
24 Oct 2012 07:24
just-drinks is in Cannes for TFWA, the annual travel retail get-together, and it's not just the warm weather that marks this event out as a different world.
At the Pernod Ricard media meet-and-eat at the Majestic Hotel on La Croisette last night, the CEO of Pernod's Chivas Brothers Scotch and gin unit, Christian Porta, reminded everyone that one out of five bottles of Chivas is sold in travel retail.
It is a huge market for the big companies, which is why over the past few years, they have set up bespoke travel retail divisions that operate like any other regional arm.
But this is a vast and complex market, with many more variables than the average country. In what other sector would you hear people talking about Russians buying Jameson in Thailand, or Chinese buying Cognac in Italy, as they were at the Pernod event.
It is also a relatively rich place, so premiumisation is usually the buzzword here and visitors can expect to see some eye-watering ostentation on display.
just-drinks is here until the end of the show on Friday, so if you see us about make sure to stop for a chat.
The freefall gamble that earned Red Bull its wings
16 Oct 2012 08:32
Red Bull reached new heights on Sunday
It may not equal Felix Baumgartner's leap into the unknown on Sunday, but when Red Bull agreed to fund the extreme parachutist's attempt to freefall from near space, executives at the Austrian firm were taking their own big risk.
Space travel, even near-space travel, is expensive, and if Baumgartner had died in his attempt Red Bull could have been indelibly linked to the result. But the gamble paid off, perhaps better than anyone could have expected.
The jump, which can be seen below, was yesterday called “perhaps the greatest marketing stunt of all time” in Forbes magazine and estimated to be worth “tens of millions of dollars of global exposure”. Eight million people online watched the moment Baumgartner stepped from his balloon 24 miles above the New Mexico desert and many more have seen the blanket media coverage.
Of course, this is all in keeping with Red Bull's unique focus on extreme sports, as outlined in this Guardian article, from its high-profile sponsorship of a Formula One team to funding ex-ice hockey pros to race down mountains. None, though, have had the penetration of yesterday's planetary plunge.
So, well done, Red Bull. And well done, Felix Baumgartner. While Heineken and the Coca-Cola Co continue to spend millions on football and the Olympics, his one small step for man resulted in one giant leap for Austrian energy drinks.
Latest projections for Pilsner Urquell looking good
08 Oct 2012 15:11
Putting on a show
Czech beer maker Pilsner Urquell celebrated its 170th birthday last week, with festivities culminating in this jaw-dropping light show projected on to the beautiful Cathedral of St Bartholomew in Pilsen. Highlights include golden lager flowing out of the windows and World War II bombers blowing the stone façade seemingly to bits.
Europe's breweries seem to have developed a taste for these sound-and-vision spectaculars. Ahead of this year's Champion's League Final in Munich, Heineken thrilled guests at a pre-match event with a similar light show that saw giant footballers kicking lumps out of a German castle.