Cheese ‘n Onion Whiskey?

September 6, 2015 by Mike

cheese_flavor-1495053One of the most rewarding times to be an academic is the dissertation period.  It’s always a learning experience for me to work with students on projects that interest them for a change, rather than tasks we set them, and over the years I have acquired new insights into a range of topics, from comedy in advertising to the marketing of tanks.

This year, two students independently came up with the idea of researching the growing “designer gin” industry, albeit from different perspectives, and it made for some very interesting tasting experiments!  Probably with these students at the back of my mind, I was drawn to a piece by Leonie Roderick in the current edition of Marketing Week. The history of the alcohol industry is, of course, littered with examples of companies seeking to extend their markets into new segments through careful brand repositioning and at times innovative product extensions.  Who can forget the relaunch of Babycham for the rave culture as a particularly novel and successful example of this?

Now it seems it is the turn of my favourite tipple, whiskey.  Pernod Ricard are placing great faith in flavoured varieties as a means of reaching increasingly discerning female drinkers, identifying four specific “consumption moments” to guide their marketing efforts.  The company is reporting an 8% increase in sales at the moment, flavoured whiskies being a key contributor to this, and other companies are jumping onto the bandwagon.  A quick search of the supermarket shelves would suggest banana-flavoured whiskey is proving particularly popular, with other derivatives including apple, cinnamon and honey. I’ve no doubt that (at least for a while) this trend will continue and enjoy moderate success, provided the flavours are appealing enough, of course.  Some of the most enduring flavours are, of course, those found in potato crisps sector, so maybe Pernod Ricard should consider adding ‘smokey bacon’, ‘pickled onion’ or ‘barbecue chicken’ whiskies to their brand portfolio.

As a whisky drinker who doesn’t believe in adding even ice or water to glass as it seems too much like pollution of the beautiful drink itself, I doubt I will be making the switch, sadly.  Then again, I’m not really the intended market segment anyway…