Ungava Spirits Brands
Gin is all the rage in Canada – and across global markets. In Canada alone in fiscal 2019, overall gin trends were up 7.9% by volume, and demand for super-premium gin above $30 grew at five times this rate. Importantly for us, Ungava gin is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the surging demand.
Ungava gin is highly differentiated, with its bold yellow colour, unique provenance, and taste that appeals to gin and non-gin drinkers alike. It’s super-premium priced, but not inaccessible, and has been gaining momentum ever since we acquired the brand in 2017. It came as no surprise to us that four of the 16 finalists in the 2019 Made with Love annual mixology competition used Ungava gin in their cocktail creations.
Our top priority in fiscal 2019 was to expand sales beyond Ungava’s heartland market of Québec (read our top story “Rallying Around Our Colour”). With all hands on deck, we succeeded in gaining listings with liquor boards in all provinces and with key national account partners. Ungava gin grew 19.4% in retail sales volume and 18.9% in value. At year end, it was the value leader in the super-premium gin category.
We also set the stage for Ungava gin’s global growth, securing distribution agreements with Pernod Ricard affiliates and third parties in key markets.
Cabot Trail (Coureur des Bois in Québec) is proving to be an equally dynamic brand. Benefiting from increased distribution and successful recruitment through retail tastings, this smooth maple-based liqueur grew 15.1% in retail volume and 16.2% in value compared to fiscal 2018.
To taste it is to love Cabot Trail Maple Cream, which marries the richness of pure Canadian maple syrup with fresh cream.
Polar Ice Vodka
What a difference a year made for Polar Ice vodka, which defied vodka category trends and returned to growth, increasing retail volumes by 2.2% and retail value by 2.6% compared to fiscal 2018.
Key initiatives included the launch of a new campaign, It’s Just Our Nature (read our top story “Making a Splash”), and strong retail and on-premise activations, especially around the Caesar cocktail, which were amplified through social media: tricked-out Caesars, topped with everything from onion rings and pickles to a whole cheeseburger, were a big hit with bloggers. We also implemented a new pricing strategy for maintaining competitiveness without eroding margins, which was another significant contributor to the brand’s improved performance.
For fiscal 2020, we’re preparing to launch a new base label design for Polar Ice to better communicate the brand’s sociable and approachable Canadian attitude, quality credentials and Canadian origin. We also have a number of innovations in the works to accelerate the brand’s growth in the way that Polar Ice Arctic Extreme and Polar Ice Peach have done.
Among its accolades, Polar Ice won Silver at the 2018 International Wine and Spirits Competition and Polar Ice Arctic Extreme won Double Gold at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Lamb’s rum, one of the top-selling rum families in Canada, was significantly affected by declining consumer appetite for standard rum and a sluggish economy in our regional stronghold of Newfoundland and Labrador. Nevertheless, Lamb’s rum is a large and profitable brand for us, and we continually find ways to make it relevant to younger consumers in particular.
Recent innovations such as Lamb’s Pineapple and Lamb’s Sociable ready-to-drink (RTD) have been very successful in Newfoundland – Lamb’s Sociable Pineapple & Soda was the number one flavoured RTD beverage at NLC liquor stores – although the volumes were not yet significant enough to offset declines in other offerings. At the end of fiscal 2019, we launched a new flavour variant, Lamb’s Green Apple, in both bottle and RTD formats, and we’re doing extensive retail sampling to promote trial among younger consumers.
With the dark premium rum and spiced rum segments holding the greatest promise in the rum category, we’re launching colour and packaging changes to Lamb’s Spiced Rum in fiscal 2020 that will appeal to a younger demographic and better communicate product attributes.
Excluding Lamb’s RTD, Lamb’s experienced an 8.1% decline in retail volume and a 7.0% decline in retail value compared to fiscal 2018.