Bitters

08 January, 2013

(Image: Shutterstock)

“Through more effectively communicating ice-cold consumption to consumers and providing reasons to drink it neat, this will help to move people away from the ‘bomb’ consumption and generate a longer-term relationship with the brand as a result.”

In short, the Jägermeister Tap Machine is one of the key sales drivers and feedback from on-trade accounts investing in it underline the positive impact it can have on the business. 

According to Paul Bossick, bar manager of the Black Sheep and Bad Apple bars in south London: “When we installed the Jägermeister Tap Machine, our sales of the spirit increased massively, from one or two bottles sold a week to 30-40. 

“It has real stand-out at the bar and our bar staff love to use it as it’s fun and provides the perfect Jägermeister serve – ice cold. The machine allows bar staff to serve customers quickly, which is ideal during busy periods, and therefore maximises sale opportunities.”

It’s hardly surprising then that, with this hugely positive uptake, Jägermeister’s UK sales are forging ahead. Indeed the bitters brand is “drastically outperforming the overall spirits market” with an MAT change of 14.3% volume and 18.8% value in the on trade, compared to a general category fall of -1.2% in volume and an increase of 7.2% value (source: CGA Strategy, on trade research specialist). 

Traditional approach

While Jägermeister is at the cutting edge in terms of marketing and the herbal bitters category, the number two brand, Fernet Branca from Italy, is positioned on a much more traditional footing. 

In 2011 the brand turned in a 20%-plus volume increase and notched up annual sales of 4.63 million cases, and its growth has been even more significant since 2007 when sales were 3.12 million cases.

It’s a result that Branca attributes to some “excellent performances”, notably in the US, Scandinavia and in Argentina where its sister company, Fratelli Branca Distilerias, has scored a great success pushing Fernet with cola, known as Fernandito or simply Branca y Cola, is proving very successful. 

As a result the company is now focusing on Branca & Cola in Italy, where the spirits market has been hit by the “deep economic” crisis. Nevertheless, the brand is one of the market leaders and Italy “remains one of its most important” stamping grounds.

Outside its home turf, the main export markets are Germany, the US – where it is particularly appreciated with ginger ale and also used as a key ingredient on the premium cocktail-making circuit – and Scandinavia. But in terms of development Fernet Branca is experiencing positive growth in countries including Australia and Canada. This is particularly encouraging as these markets have only come on stream in recent years.  

Clearly the world’s two leading bitter liqueurs are well positioned and it’s interesting to note that this is one of the few spirits categories which has not seen the cocktail as the lifeline, but that notwithstanding, bitters do have an important role to play in the making of cocktails.  





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Nick Strangeway

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