A Conversation With Industry Professionals
somebody wants açai, they are not really
going to want to listen to you explain that
grape serves the same purpose. I believe
there will continue to be a proliferation of
flavors. But the hot flavors—peach, coco-
nut, whipped cream—they will dominate.
(Pinnacle’s Whipped Cream flavor has a
high vanilla component—surprise! The
American consumer likes vanilla!)
It is incumbent upon us as an indus-
try to deliver flavors that are accurate—
products need to reflect the flavor they
represent. I believe in the future con-
sumers will be even more demanding
about this. We released Pinnacle Pump-
kin Pie last year as a limited edition SKU,
and we were blown away by how much
people loved it—because it tastes ex-
actly like pumpkin pie.
People doubted your flavor
pioneering the world of bourbon,
yet Red Stag took off immediately.
It’s true—people thought we were
off our rocker when we first talked about
developing Red Stag. But when you
think about it, it’s not so revolutionary.
Cherry Garcia is Ben & Jerry’s best-
selling flavor, Cherry Coke and Pepsi
are huge—the consumer likes cherry.
We weren’t asking them to understand
some new or different concept.
The term “lifestyle beverage” is
used frequently today to describe an
array of products across different
categories. How do you define it?
It’s about creating situations and for-
mats that match up with the way people
are living today. People are short on time
and are looking for convenience, yet they
want premium—this is not unique to our
industry. When people decide what they
will drink, it’s no longer as simple as “I’ll
have a beer.” Consumers want a variety
of flavor and intensity of flavor. Lifestyle
brands fill needs often before people even
realize they have them.
Sauza Sparkling Margarita is a good
example of a lifestyle brand that com-
bines categories and various desirable
attributes. We drink a lot of things with
bubbles—soda, beer, sparkling water—
because they are refreshing and cleans-
ing on the palate. We combined this with
the number one drink in the country and
it’s off to an amazing start, far beyond
Bourbon is huge right now, with
a growing global footprint. How do you
see the American bourbon consumer
Bourbon really has become the sin-
gle hottest category in our industry. As a
subset, the craft business is very popu-
lar. We helped start that trend with Knob
Creek, Booker’s and Basil Hayden’s. With
the number one bourbon in the world, Jim
Beam, we felt like we were in a position to
show that the largest producer can also
do things that are craft and unique, so this
fall we are unveiling Jim Beam Signature
Craft, an 86-proof small-batch bourbon.
Again, we know that Jim Beam is a trusted
brand, and we believe that when people
look to trade up, they gravitate to names
they have confidence in.
The bourbon consumer wants variety
and opportunities to experiment. Before
we released Maker’s 46, we saw that
when people wanted to trade up, they
left the brand. Now they can stay. On
both Maker’s expressions we have ex-
perienced supply issues, but we recently
were reminded of a very important les-
son: You can’t go wrong when you listen
to your consumers.
Innovation seems to be at an
all-time high in the beverage alcohol
business. How can retailers avoid
cluttering their shelves?
Innovation is extremely important to
us. We aim to have one quarter of our
growth come from innovation. But a lot
of innovation—as retailers well know—
doesn’t work. We have worked very hard
to achieve a success rate that is off the
chart; the vast majority of the products
we launch succeed. It’s a tough call
for retailers, because they simply can’t
take everything. They want to bet on the
companies that have shown success at
creating things that pull through on- and
off-premise. At Beam, when we bring
something new to the table, we find
ways to help pull it through.
“IT IS INCUMBENT UPON US AS AN INDUSTRY
TO DELIVER FLAVORS THAT ARE ACCURATE—
PRODUCTS NEED TO REFLECT THE FLAVOR
THEY REPRESENT. I BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE
CONSUMERS WILL BE EVEN MORE DEMANDING