Posted on | June 30, 2014
Written by | Cara McIlwaine
Sales of cream liqueurs traditionally peak at the holidays. But leave it to the brand driving category growth to also buck tradition. In May, Agave Loco Brands celebrated shipping their millionth case of RumChata, a remarkable milestone for a brand that rolled out less than five years ago in a category that has been relatively flat.
RumChata’s appeal starts with its unique character. Modeled on the Mexican rice milk drink horchata, RumChata blends real dairy cream with high-quality Caribbean rum, incorporating flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. Though cream-based, refrigeration is not necessary.
RumChata is now available in all 50 states, as well as Canada and the Caribbean, at 13.5% ABV and an average retail price of $19.95. Hitting one million cases is worth celebrating, but RumChata founder and Master Blender Tom Maas is not resting on his laurels. He says, “There are still several markets around the country where RumChata as a brand is underdeveloped. As a small player in the distilled spirits business it has been hard to get the trade to take our brand seriously in some places.”
But numbers speak for the brand’s broad appeal: RumChata has generated more than $420 million in retail revenues on- and off-premise. Maas says, “Retailers are realizing that we are not just a fad and we have a very strong and loyal fan base.” Going forward, the priority for RumChata is “to continue to educate the trade on just how profitable this brand can be for them if they choose to feature it,” says Maas.
This month marks the close of RumChata’s first cause-driven market initiative—the Freedom Bottle Program, in support of the Lone Survivor Foundation, which helps restore, support and renew wounded service members and their families. The company produced a limited run of red, white and blue logoed bottles available between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. “This is really the first organized effort we were able to do, since we’re so new to the marketplace,” notes Maas. “We are very big supporters of our military veterans. We thought that by promoting a commemorative Freedom Bottle might shine more light on the group we are supporting.”
Sales of the Freedom Bottle kicked off over Memorial Weekend with Indianapolis 500 tie-ins. Since the brand had already allocated the proceeds from all Freedom bottles produced for charity, they made the check presentation during Indy 500 festivities.
RumChata fans showed support and helped raise funds during the race by tweeting with the hashtag #RumChata500; The RumChata Foundation donated 500 cents ($5) for every tweet received. RumChata was also prepared to donate for top-three placement finishes for its sponsored drivers. Marco Andretti’s third-place finish ensured a donation of $25,000. All together, RumChata’s Freedom Bottle Program raised $138,555 for the Lone Survivor Foundation.
The RumChata Summer Iced Coffee Sampler Pack is one way the brand is aiming to maintain sales momentum in the hot months. The pack includes two 8 oz. ready-to-drink cans of Casa del Sol coffee with a 750ml bottle of RumChata. “We’re so confident that RumChata iced coffees are the best tasting iced coffees in the world, we decided to give the coffee away,” says Maas. The packs cost the same as a 750ml bottle of RumChata, $19.95.
“We also want our customers to remember how well RumChata can mix in some of their favorite cocktails,” Maas adds. “I know if we can educate the consumer, we know they will enjoy RumChata for a long time to come.”