Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics May/June 2015

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

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Page 36 of 59 May/June 2015 • Beverage Dynamics 37 2015 GROWTH BRAND AWARDS – HALL OF FAME { SKYY VODKA } CAMPARI AMERICA 18 Growth Brand Awards • 2014 Sales: 2.81m 9-liter cases F ounded in 1953 by Bill Samuels, Sr. in Loretto, Kentucky, the Maker's Mark Distillery is now a National Historic Landmark, welcoming visitors and Bourbon lovers to the brand's homeplace. Since that time, the brand has introduced Cask Strength and Maker's 46 to the portfolio. The Beam Suntory brand is overseen today by COO Rob Samuels, Bill Sr.'s grandson. The first batch of Maker's Mark was ready in 1959 and Marge Samuels, Bill's wife, came up with the name, hand-torn label, bottle shape and idea to hand-dip each bottle in red wax. She was recently inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, in recognition of her connection to the industry and the Maker's Mark brand, being instrumental in ev- erything down to the look and feel of the distillery. "Our initial brand positioning hasn't changed much over the years — we stayed true to a single-minded focus," says Gigi DaDan, Maker's Mark's Senior Marketing Director. "Bill Samuels was a pioneer in the hand-crafted Bourbon category because he wanted to create a Bourbon he could enjoy drinking, which was also approachable." The number of consumers approaching the whiskey category has increased in recent years, especially as female drinkers and the younger generation have embraced Bourbon. "Maker's Mark is getting our fair share of the women coming into the category," DaDan says. "You see an increased interest across the board in premium and super-premium products, not just in the U.S. but around the world, which is really driv- ing interest in the Bourbon category." Maker's Mark also benefits from the renewed in- terest in cocktail culture, which matches the brand's marketing efforts. "We're educating a wider pool of drinkers and bartenders now," DaDan adds. "That's really how we've built the brand over the years — through the bartending community, relying on them to influencing consumers' drinking behavior." And finally, the brand is benefiting most from the importance of authenticity to today's consumers. "What you see when you go to the distillery is that through every part of the process, we have people working on the brand," DaDan says. "It's a hand-crafted process that people can see for them- selves. Visitors can come down and see the men and women hand-dipping every single bottle, which is now well over a mil- lion barrels per year." { MAKER'S MARK } BEAM SUNTORY 17 Growth Brand Awards • 2014 Sales: 1.34m 9-liter cases S ince 1992 when it was created in San Francisco, SKYY vodka has challenged conventional wis- dom in the vodka category. Known for its lime- stone filtration and cobalt-blue bottle, the brand has introduced a number of innovations over the years, including SKYY Infusions and the recently-released SKYY Barcraft. In only 23 years on the market, SKYY has received 18 Growth Brand Awards. "As vodka has become more of a commodity game and many of the top players battle for shelf space by pulling the price level, SKYY is trying to stay out of the fight by building brand equity," a brand representative says. "We're laser-focused on building and affirming the vodka's core truths of quality, innovation and style with everything from bold, new advertising, to marketing activations, to upgrading our bottle." SKYY has especially benefited from the craft cocktail movement and re-imagined classic cock- tails. "With a few simple, fresh ingredients, SKYY is fostering the belief that you can make a terrific cocktail without too much fuss," the brand says. "To stay relevant for bartenders and consumers, we're developing programming that will empha- size great-tasting cocktails simplified, such as SKYY Barcraft." When the brand was acquired by Gruppo Campari about five years ago, that spirit of innova- tion could have easily been lost — however, the op- posite has been true. "The acquisition put us in the position to be able to drive our own destiny," the rep says. "SKYY's focus is leveraging the amazing portfolio of brands, including Wild Turkey, Amer- ican Honey and Forty Creek. Our brands mean something. Each has an interesting story and every single one of them is exceptional." BD

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