Happy hour with Pernod Ricard USA’s New Brand Ventures’ brands to watch

Posted by: Malisa Meresman in: Food/Beverage -

Mixology is no longer just for the pros. Instead of simply pouring a glass of wine or opening a bottle of beer – or mixing their spirit of choice with soda, tonic or juice – more and more consumers are experimenting with mixology at home.

This trend is pushing mixologists and bartenders to be even more creative, inventing innovative cocktails that will enable them to surprise their customers with something new. And the trend is also pushing beverage companies to be more creative with their offerings and to rethink how brands are built and marketed.

Pernod Ricard USA announced the establishment of a New Brand Ventures division two years ago to build up brands that have significant growth potential, and on August 6 the company hosted a happy hour spotlighting seven brands from this “incubation” division: AberlourPlymouth Gin, Lillet, Powers, Del Maguey, Smooth Ambler and Monkey 47.

The event began with a cocktail tasting that allowed guests the opportunity to circulate among the brands’ booths and sample signature cocktails while chatting with ambassadors from these “brands to watch.”

Following the tasting, the brand representatives gathered for a panel discussion moderated by Noah Rothbaum, chief cocktail correspondent and Half Full editor at The Daily Beast and author of “The Art of American Whiskey” and “The Business of Spirits.” The discussion addressed the innovations and industry trends propelling each of the featured brands.

The Finn team had the opportunity to attend the event on behalf of client Lillet, which has grown by embracing two things:

  • Its French culture and heritage: Lillet’s New York brand ambassador hails from France and was able to speak firsthand about the French culture, lifestyle and habits that make low-ABV cocktails, such as the Lillet Spritz, so appealing. Whether they’re sitting down to a long, leisurely lunch or enjoying the company of family and friends before dinner, the French believe in savoring the good things in life, and that applies to how they drink alcohol as well – drinking is a social activity, and the companionship is celebrated as much as the meal itself. For many, cocktail hour is an almost sacred ritual.
  • The low-ABV trend: Light, low-ABV cocktails complement such moments in France and are a growing trend across America as well. Low-ABV spirits such as Lillet, and cocktails like the Lillet Spritz, are a perfect way to enjoy daytime libations. The increasing popularity of low-ABV cocktails reflects consumers’ desire to pursue a healthier lifestyle and more responsible drinking without giving up one of life’s great pleasures – relaxing with a drink with friends.

While the seven featured brands are all very different, one thing they have in common is a strong brand identity, and they are all growing and succeeding by leveraging what differentiates them from their competitors – whether through sharing their own authentic heritage with contemporary consumers, honoring the “classics” or innovating to continue to provide consumers with new beverage experiences.

These brands to watch are all tuned in to the constantly evolving marketplace – watching the trends and listening to what consumers have to say and acting on that feedback – but it’s not about chasing after trends and changing with them. Rather, the brands are responding to market trends by embracing their distinctiveness and understanding how that distinctiveness resonates with consumers and speaks to what is happening in the marketplace.

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