Craft white spirits are untapped gift market, new research shows

The Christmas gift market has untapped potential for white spirits producers, especially at the craft end of the market, according to research from Mintel.

Some 85% of white spirit or ready-to-drink consumers would consider buying white spirits as a gift, the data showed.

However, consumers are evenly split on budget, with 51% prepared to spend over £20 on a white spirit bottle as a gift, and 49% not.

Consumers are also increasingly willing to trade up. Around 32% would be prepared to pay more for craft white spirits, such as those made by small batch producers in limited edition runs.

That figure rises to 45% of men aged between 25 and 44.

Chris Wisson, senior drinks analyst at Mintel, said: “Gifting is a good way of encouraging consumers to trade up within the market. However, gifting is leveraged less effectively within the white spirits category than it is in markets such as whisky, which sees a significant spike in volume sales for occasions such as Father’s Day and Christmas.

“There are opportunities for brands to stand out from the pack and tap into this opportunity, for example via eye-catching packaging, limited editions or small batches and interesting flavour innovation.”

Jacob Ehrenkrona, chief executive of Martin Miller’s Gin, said: “Consumers today are much more aware and demand full transparency, as they are genuinely interested in what goes into producing what they eat or drink.

“The gin market has experienced a large influx of a range of interesting flavoured gins that attract a great deal of attention. This is very much welcomed by Martin Miller’s Gin as it drives awareness to the category but in the same time we have to maintain a high-level of innovation to keep the interest from buyers and people in the trade without becoming the flavour of the month.”

The Mintel research also showed that young drinkers will push UK gin sales above £1 billion for the first time this year, up from £829 million in 2012.

The company predicts continued sales growth to £1.31 billion by 2020.

However, rum sales are down 6% to £411 million in 2015, with Mintel predicting a further drop to £378 million in 2020.

Just 11% of white spirit or ready-to-drink consumers see white rum as value for money, Mintel reports.

Consumers still cite vodka as their preferred white spirit, with 30% choosing it as their favourite, compared to 20% for gin and 17% for rum.

Vodka is responsible for 61% of the total value of white spirit sales, with 48% of us having drunk it in the past year.

Its sales are up 8% since 2010 and reached £3.46 billion in 2015.

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