April 13, 2020

America’s Fastest-Growing Spirits Brands

The 2020 Beverage Dynamics Growth Brands Awards recognize the fastest-growing beverage alcohol brands in the U.S.

With hundreds, if not thousands, of new products coming onto the market every year, how can members of the trade keep up with which items to stock, which to drop and which to watch? We’re here to help, with this year’s list of 136 Growth Brands award winners: the wine and spirit brands leading the industry forward into 2020.

The following pages honor winners for each product type in four categories: Rising Star, Fast Track, Established Growth and Comeback Brand (see the category definitions below). They represent more than 125 million cases sold, and collectively sold.
We congratulate all 75 spirits and 62 wines that made the 2020 list.

Although we’re unable to honor them this year at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Convention, as we have in the past, we’ll soon announce other ways they’ll be highlighted in our in-person, print and digital coverage throughout the year. We begin here with spirits. Watch for the wine Growth Brands Awards winners in Part 2 of this series next week.

Category Definitions
» Established Growth Brands are top sellers in their category, at least five years old, and moved  a minimum of 400,000 9-liter cases in 2018. They have also grown sales over each of the last three years.
» Rising Stars are less than five years old and have grown each year of their existence, reaching at least 20,000 9-liter cases in 2018.
» Fast Track Brands are at least five years old, and have exceeded 100,000 9-liter cases sold in 2018, with double-digit growth in each of the last three years.
» Comeback Brands are previous winners that have rebounded in sales to at least their previous winning level, following a recent decline.

Top-Selling Spirits
Once again, spirits sales rose in 2019, continuing an unprecedented growth streak. This year’s list of Growth Brands winners includes 75 spirits that represent more than 85 million cases sold.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka continued its upward trajectory, growing by more than 20% again last year. The remaining list of large brands (million-case sellers) is dominated by whiskey, tequila and vodka. Hennessy, Malibu, Baileys and JD Country Cocktails also showed impressive growth.

This year’s Spirits Supplier of the Year for the third year in a row is Brown-Forman, which saw 12 of its spirits make this year’s Growth Brands list.
How did these 75 brands achieve sustained success and meet our Growth Brands sales criteria? A combination of successful marketing, increased distribution, unique activation programs on- and off-premise and by generally tapping into consumer trends at the right time.


Vodka Keeps Soaring
Led by top-selling spirit Tito’s, the vodka category continues to grow. Tito’s earned its 13th Growth Brands Award this year as a Fast Track winner, continuing its impressive rise. VP of Trade Marketing Frank Polley attributes that success to consumers’ appreciation for quality.

“The ability to provide a great drink with low-calorie, no-carb, gluten-free options in various cocktails gives consumers what they want,” he says. “What’s really been effective year in and year out is sticking to the basics, which starts with offering up cocktail solutions aligned with what consumers are looking for.”

Tito’s also leverages its philanthropic efforts, which include the brands’ Love, Tito’s campaign, and Vodka for Dog People.“Both are great initiatives that allow us to program our brand to help drive awareness and fundraising to support a wide range of local charities,” Polley adds.Like Tito’s, Dixie Southern Vodka has benefited from the recent trend of consumers shifting from imported to American vodkas.

“The big, global brands are falling out of favor, particularly with younger consumers who want to know who’s behind the brands they support, where the ingredients come from, and are more inclined to support local and independent brands,” says Grain & Barrel Spirits CEO Matti Anttila. “We check all those boxes, and consumers and the trade are supporting us for it.”

Dixie Southern highlights that “drink local” message on-premise, featuring stories from ingredient partners on menus. Off-premise, the brand highlights a “Flavor of the South” message with POS, in-store tastings and staff education. In 2020, the brand’s status as an official NASCAR partner will help expand its national distribution.
Texas-based Western Son Vodka, a Fast Track winner, has also benefited from the trend towards local and independent brands — with a variety of consumers.

“This was a big growth year for us on-premise, activating across independents with positive consumer response,” says Director of Brand Marketing Erin King. “The beauty of Western Son is how well we fit into a variety of concepts. It’s not uncommon to see us at a local watering hole, and also on a cocktail menu at a white-tablecloth concept.”
The focus for 2020 will be telling the brand’s story, connecting with more consumers and developing brand loyalists.

“Consumers are looking for more than just great products; they want connection and shared beliefs,” King says. “Western Son was built on independent, hard-working, innovative thinkers and those characteristics are still driving our brand today.”
ROC House Brands’ Recipe 21 Vodka benefits from its value proposition, earning Fast Track status for a 32.5% growth in 2019.

“R21 offers four-times distilled, premium vodka at one of the lowest price points in the market,” says Branding Director Mary DeMarco. “We’ve also seen significant growth because of the brand’s modern packaging — the colorful, bright bottle pops on-shelf when compared with other brands in the value vodka category.”

On-premise, the brand has seen success with themed parties that include shot specials, signature cocktails, free merchandise, sampling and a geo-fenced snapchat filter. Off-premise, recent promotions include a life-size golf cart display and summertime grill-out BBQ.

“We recently launched our Wicked Cin cinnamon whiskey, which has been gaining momentum and will be a focus for 2020,” DeMarco says. “Keeping the momentum going, we’re also adding a spiced rum to our portfolio.”


** This is an abbreviated version of this article. To access the original article in its entirety, click below.

Full Article

Author: Jeremy Nedelka

Publication: Beverage Dynamics

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