Cheers - March/April 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 50 of 59 51 March/April 2016 • A ll Irish cream brands face two truths. The first is that sales are by far the best around the winter holidays. The second is that the category has a runaway leader: Baileys Irish Cream, the top-selling liqueur worldwide. Even with those two category-defining realities, there is plenty of room for growth, creativity and opportunity. Irish cream—the combination of heavy cream and Irish whiskey—is an indulgent year-round treat, brands say, and appeals to modern drinkers who crave variety and quality. FOLLOW THE LEADER How far ahead of the pack is Baileys? The Irish cream brand, launched in 1974, sold 1.3 million nine-liter cases in 2014. While that's down 5.8% from the pre- vious year, the next-largest Irish cream brand is Carolans, which sold 540,000 cases in 2014, up 5.8% from 2013. The other brands have an interesting relationship with Baileys. "On one hand we want to separate ourselves from them," says Ed Caan, founder/ CEO of Riviera Imports, which produces Molly's Irish Cream liqueur. "And on the other, we want to get closer to them." Closer in that competing Irish creams want consumers to know they are viable alternatives to Baileys. But other brands know they owe Baileys for developing the category and driving customer inter- est. "Because of Baileys, we do not need to educate IRISH CREAM LIQUEUR A DECADENT SPIRIT CATEGORY THAT'S NOT JUST FOR THE HOLIDAYS CATEGORY CLOSE-UP most consumers in the United States about how to drink Irish cream," says Alejandra Pena, senior vice president of marketing for Castle Brands, which owns Brady's Irish Cream. Baileys recognizes and embrac- es this role. "As the category leader, Baileys always wants to ensure that we're helping to drive category growth," says Nicola Heckles, Baileys' brand director. DEVIATE AND DISTINGUISH Baileys' dominance naturally affects the strategies of its competitors. A clear category leader allows other brands to distinguish themselves by showing their differences. Molly's urges drinkers to take the "Molly's Challenge" and put the product up against any of its rivals. The brand has also part- nered up with the all-female Irish musical ensemble The Celtic Woman. With greater customer exposure, the brand hopes it can avoid being seen as a category lookalike. "We want people to know that Molly's is a legitimate prod- uct that can be enjoyed by Baileys has worked with several mixologists on specialty cocktails such as The Smoky Aye, left, from San Francisco mixologist Kate Bolton, made with with Baileys, Irish whiskey, Campari and freshly brewed coffee, topped with zested orange crème. Above, The Dude's Breakfast by Los Angeles bartender Michael Lay, made with Baileys, Cîroc vodka, cold-brew coffee, Angostura bitters and garnished with fresh-grated nutmeg. By Kyle Swartz The original Irish Cream liqueur Baileys was launched in 1974; the brand unveiled an Espresso Crème flavor late last year.

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