Three big trends driving the Rum-olution
By Junior Planner, Amy Slesinger
At Guy & Co, we make every effort to keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the drinks industry. So naturally we couldn’t miss ‘The Rum Festival’ touring the UK. The event was packed, which isn’t surprising given the explosion of intriguing new rum brands entering the market. Here are three of the biggest trends we witnessed and what we see as ingredients to a ‘rum-away’ success.
It’s no surprise that rum, especially flavoured and ‘golden’ rum, is expected to be the next spirit craze. Rum sales have risen by 18% in volume and 38% in value in the last five years, resulting in sales breaking the £1bn mark at the end of 2017 for the first time ever. It hasn’t stolen gin’s crown just yet, but rum is growing faster than all other categories excluding gin and is expected to outpace it by 2020. The same trends that helped popularise gin – cocktail culture, premiumisation and flavour innovation – are also pushing rum’s growing success. The crowded gin market may even be to blame for the increasing number of new exciting rum brand launches and innovations from established brands in the UK. A festival vendor told us that it was the gin market saturation which encouraged their young brand to venture into rums.
- Demand for interesting & unusual flavours
Not all flavours and types of rum are growing. White rum volume sales have fallen flat, with greater demand for unique flavours and ingredients. The most common flavours that we saw at the Festival were coffee and coconut, while the full range included everything from rosehip, elderberry, banana to an exotic custard tasting fruit! Big brands are jumping on this flavour trend – in 2019 Bacardi, best known for their white rum, released a coconut flavoured rum, Kraken released coffee flavoured “Kraken Black Roast” and Dead Man’s Fingers are boldly capitalising on the CBD explosion with the release of a hemp variant.
- A focus on provenance & storytelling
There’s an increased demand for artisanal craft spirits, especially among younger drinkers, with nearly two thirds of drinkers open to paying more for a craft rum. This demand for smaller-scale producers might be why there are now 150 rums in the UK market in 2018, compared to just 50 a decade ago. We saw brands place a greater focus on their regional uniqueness and authenticity, mimicking language used for craft beers. It was particularly evident in newer Scottish brands such as Orkney Pirate-inspired ‘J. Gow’, who promote their location and story at the forefront. As with craft beer and gin, consumers are increasingly interested in a strong brand story as a reason to try.
- The rise of craft cocktails
The thirst for craft cocktails by consumers plus the enthusiasm of leading bartenders has driven rum growth. Rum cocktails are getting increasingly popular, from classics such as mojitos, daiquiris to tiki-style drinks like Pina Coladas. The brands we saw at the Festival were conscious of how their products worked in cocktails and were keen to demonstrate how their liquid brought a new twist to these classic serves. For example, ‘Ninefold’ who position themselves as perfect for cocktails.
Here at Guy & Co, we’ve already been putting these principles into practice while developing Spice Hunter, a bold new brand of rum for the esteemed Berry Bros. & Rudd. We know first-hand that to launch a successful new rum you need a compelling brand story (ours based on the one-armed, 18th-century spice smuggler, Pierre Poivre…) linking back to its artisanal quality, new and interesting flavours, and cocktail compatibility. Plus, a great quality liquid with attractive packaging doesn’t hurt either!