The head of Pernod Ricard's Asia unit has said the company has lined up new brands and marketing innovations around lower abv whisky, as it looks to catch up with the trend in the Korean market.

Speaking at the company's Capital Market Day in Shenzhen, China, last week, Pernod Ricard Asia CEO Philippe Guettat admitted the group had been sluggish to respond to the changes. "We have been slow to react to this trend," he said, "but we have been reacting very promptly, very aggressively with the launch of three variants of lower abv Imperial."

According to Guettat, lower alcohol whisky - defined as between 35% and 37% abv - now accounts for "more than half of total whisky consumption" in Korea.

Pernod launched Imperial 35 in December 2016, followed by Imperial D-Light and Imperial Smooth. "After only 18 months," Guettat noted, "the lower abv variants account for 40% of total Imperial volumes."

Local market depletion reports show the overall Imperial brand to be down 9%, though Pernod will be hoping its investment behind lower-abv expressions will help bolster the brand.

Diageo also has lower-abv whisky brands in the Korean market, including W Signature by Windsor, a 35% abv whisky launched in 2016. 

Pernod Ricard Capital Market Day 2018 - Asia overview - Click here for a just-drinks focus

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