Posted on | May 31, 2013
Written by | Kristen Wolfe Bieler
Beam identifies the top three trends driving consumer drinking behavior.
What do Skinnygirl Mojito, Pinnacle Rainbow Sherbet Vodka and Sauza Sparkling Margarita all have in common? They are all new to market, they are all in the Beam portfolio and—though they technically occupy different spirits categories—they are all “Lifestyle Beverages.”
“Lifestyle beverages are those products that are purpose built based on a keen understanding of what consumer trends are driving people’s needs and choices today,” says Deb Boyda, General Manager for Beam’s Venture Category Business team. And, explains Boyda, in the marketplace today the most significant trends are the appeal of low calorie, flavor and convenience.
“We really want to create a tight connection between the lives of our consumers and the brands we offer,” Boyda stresses. “It’s about providing solutions for what they are already looking for.”
Skinnygirl Cocktails filled an obvious hole in the marketplace when it launched in 2009. “Skinnygirl fell into a white space opportunity: No one was serving the needs of women in the cocktail space,” Boyda recalls.
Skinnygirl Cocktails—the line now includes 16 products in Ready-to-Serve, Vodka and Wine—enables women to indulge in a cocktail without the high-calorie price tag. Beam is able to keep almost the entire line of Skinnygirl Cocktails under 100 calories per serving while also scoring big on the convenience scale. “We launched the Skinnygirl Minis last year—4-packs of individual 200ml plastic bottles which are perfect for outdoor occasions,” Boyda says.
The brand’s “Lifestyle” appeal is amped up by founder and celebrity entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel. “As a woman and a charismatic entrepreneur, Bethenny has a lot of sizzle and cache as a person.” The “wow-factor” she brings to the entire Skinnygirl portfolio helps Beam speak to their target consumer: “women who know what they want and go out and get it.”
Last year Beam took the Skinnygirl brand into the vodka and wine categories with impressive early results. “Through Q1 2013, Skinnygirl’s net comparable sales are up 140%,” shares Boyda. Launched in March of this year: Skinnygirl White Cherry Vodka, Skinnygirl Moscato Wine, Skinnygirl Sweet ’n Tart Grapefruit Margarita and Skinnygirl Mojito.
The Future of Flavor
The marketplace seems awash in flavored vodkas. Yet Pinnacle—a brand that Beam acquired last year—remains one of the fastest growing category leaders. A lot of this has to do, ironically, believes Boyda, with the strength of Pinnacle’s unflavored vodka. “From a product quality standpoint, we have one of the best-tasting vodkas out there. It is rare to find a price/quality ratio like this.” Pinnacle’s base vodka represents approximately half of the brand’s total sales.
When it comes to flavors, “our challenge to ourselves is to be the first to market with flavors that have unique appeal,” Boyda describes. Pinnacle pioneered this trend with the introduction of Pinnacle Whipped several years ago (it still remains the best-selling of the brand’s 30 flavors). Pinnacle’s latest innovations are Rainbow Sherbet and Strawberry Shortcake, summertime-focused flavors with nostalgic appeal.
Beam spends a great deal of time looking at what will be trending tomorrow, and they see sparkling beverages as a place to be. Enter Sauza Sparkling Margarita, as Vanessa Jenkins, Senior Marketing Director of Tequilas at Beam, explains: “We’ve taken America’s #1 cocktail and made it even more refreshing by adding a bit of effervescence to it. It’s fresh, bubbly, and ready-to-serve—perfect for any ladies’ evening with friends. Launched in April, the flavors—Original Lime, Wild Berry and Mango Peach—all check in at just under 10% ABV and retail for $12.99.