From this week people passing through various airports internationally will see the new Age Matters campaign with ‘Look For The Number – Know The Age, Know Whisky’ merchandising on gondolas, shelves holding the likes of Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, The Glenlivet and Royal Salute on it.
The scotch and premium gin division of Pernod Ricard commissioned research among more than 2,000 whisky drinkers in nine countries.
Ninety-four percent believed that the age statement on a bottle is an indicator of quality; 93% believed that older whiskies are better quality and 89% claimed they looked for an age statement when deciding on which whisky to buy.
Yet only 10% of those surveyed understood that the age statement refe s to the youngest whisky in the bottle. Approximately half believed it referred to the average age and 35% to the oldest whisky present.
Christian Porta, chairman and CEO of Chivas Brothers, said that with more than 90% of whisky drinkers rating the importance of age statements yet so few understanding what it actually means, the company had taken it upon itself to launch this awareness campaign which can be viewed as beneficial to virtual all of the scotch whisky industry.
Asked how it is going to convey the small print of the scotch whisky regulations, Porta said that merchandisers will be on hand at the selected airport retail outlets to explain what exactly the age statement means. The campaign will be rolled out into domestic markets in the autumn.
“We also hope to gain coverage in the trade press and generate a lot of coverage in newspapers and magazines such as trendy, lifestyle magazines,” said Porta.
“Scotch whisly has a history of promoting aged whiskies but it is not well understood enough so we have to educate the consumer.
“It is positive for the category. We are not being a philanthropist,” quipped Porta. “This is good for our brands.”
With sales of scotch whisky soaring globally, Porta was asked whether Chivas has the stocks to meet increasing demand, particularly for aged whisky. “No one knows how much 12-year-old we’ll need in 12 years but we assess the market twice a year. If the market explodes, I’d prefer to be managing that than managing a decline.”
In announcing the campaign, Porta flagged up a quote from Guy Salter, deputy chairman, Walpole, British Luxury Industry Association. It said: “Purchasing decisions are increasingly driven by growing sophistication and knowledge. (There has been an) over reliance on the brand as a guarantee of quality and value.”
With so few whisky drinkers understanding what the age statement on a bottle of scotch means, particularly in crucial emerging markets such as China, Porta sees the Age Matters campaign as vital to securing and underlining scotch whisky’s position as a premium spirit with a rich history and traditions.