Last night (Tuesday December 3), I attended a tasting of Balblair vintages. We tasted five whiskies, 2003, 1997, 1990, 1983 and 1969, prefaced by a glass of Balblair’s base spirit.
Speaking at the group’s annual financial results, CEO Paul Walsh said the Group would continue to expand sales by targeting “under-served” consumers.
Walsh said that drinks marketing "has traditionally had a very male voice” and underlined a number of female-focused initiatives.
In the whisky category, Diageo has partnered its scotch brand Johnnie Walker with Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks for a new campaign. The marketing, Walsh said, would appeal to both men and women.
The UK-headquartered group, which recently released a zero calorie Margarita drink aimed at females, has also “firmly targeted” women in Africa with the beer alternative, Snapp Apple. The 4% abv over-ice drink launched in April in Kenya and has rolled out to Nigeria and Ghana.
Snapp Apple is made using malt from local Diageo breweries but is said to be closer to the taste profile of an RTD than a fruit beer.
Andy Fennell, chief marketing officer at Diageo, said market research in the region revealed that beer “wasn’t meeting women’s desires” because the taste wasn't seen as "ideal" and that brands often employed "masculine imagery”.
According to Fennell, the targeting of women in Africa is a response to “one of the big dynamics in the world - female empowerment in the emerging world”. He added: “It’s beholden on us to provide products that are ‘bulls-eye’ for women."
The new brand is supported by marketing centred around the ‘Snapp Sisters’ - a female African pop-group whose lyrics convey “important messages of self esteem, independence and fun”.
Diageo hopes to engage with over 50s consumers through its portfolio of whiskies, along with gin brand Tanqueray and global stout leader Guinness.
The group will be harnessing QR code technology in the run up to Father’s Day. When scanned by smart phones, Johnnie Walker bottle labels will link to unique website addresses where gift-givers can leave a personalised message.
Speaking about the marketing device, Walsh said: “It’s fascinating what you can do with technology to enhance links to consumers and maximise sales.”
The group CEO added that it was important Diageo serviced middle class consumers by continuing to market brands - as it has in India - that have a premium look and taste but are affordable. “The new middle class consumer aspires to brands but may not be able to afford them,” he said.
As part of the drive to make Diageo’s established spirits brands more accessible to the world's emerging middle classes, new smaller size formats have been introduced.
Using the example of J&B scotch whisky, Walsh said more affordable 20cl bottles would entice consumers unable to afford 70cl bottles and who would ordinarily opt for beer. “Smaller [formats] makes it more accessible in Africa, Asia and South America,” he said.