While overall white spirits sales appear to have regained some momentum, the diverging fortunes of different categories and the comparatively subdued forecast volume gains across the board underline the importance of innovation and geographic expansion. With micro-distillers already leaving their mark on vodka and English gin and hence providing dynamism and edginess to the categories, Dutch gin remains less and less relevant to aspiring drinkers in its core markets.
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White spirits are still in the grip of the ubiquitous vodka category, while showcasing signs of subdued yet healthy resurgence
Dutch gin retains its positive trajectory but the curve is gradually softening due to the category’s lack of aspirational attributes and outdated image. Innovation activities are mostly focusing on flavour sophistication and lower abv variants in an attempt to increase penetration rates in younger audiences.
While top line volume growth remains largely uninspiring, the wave of launches by micro-distillers in the US and the UK and the first signs of mainstream brands embracing flavour sophistication point to cautious optimism
While vodka has historically been a pioneer in both the trends of flavour sophistication and premiumisation, overegging the former is currently happening at the expense of the latter and could eventually backfire.
Premium and luxury expressions will increasingly surface as the key engines for growth for all white spirits in their overly mature core markets.
While English gin and vodka are highly fragmented – with the nascent craft segment fuelling innovation and experimentation - Dutch gin is highly consolidated and lacking radical ideas and aspirational credentials.
Vodka’s casual and mixable character has secured the category a solid presence in most countries. This has, in turn, raised the opportunities beyond its sinking Eastern European flagship. English and especially Dutch gin should follow the same path sooner rather than later.
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