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The top 10 most popular spirits in the US

Spirits have swiped market share from beer for an eighth consecutive year in the US, but which are the nation’s favourite brands? Analyst YouGov has revealed the country’s top 10 spirits brands based on a national survey.

A survey by data and analyst group YouGov gathered information about people’s personal preferences between 10 November 2017 and 16 April 2018.

The group received 20 million responses, which were analysed to determine the popularity score across a number of categories including food, media, technology and sports.

The results revealed the nation’s favourite spirits brands, which ranged from vodka to gin to whisky – and even liqueurs.

It’s no secret that Americans are big fans of their spirits. Last year, the industry experienced record sales in the country, hitting US$26.2 billion, according to trade body the Distilled Spirits Council.

Sales of both both domestic and imported spirits were up 4% in the year, while joint volumes rose 2.6% to 226m cases.

Spirits now own 36.6% of the total alcohol beverage market share, marking the eighth consecutive year that the category has gained market share against beer.

Click through to the following pages for the top spirits brands in the US, according to YouGov ratings.

10. Kahlúa

Pernod Ricard’s coffee-flavoured liqueur Kahlúa inched into 10th position, beating the likes of Absolut vodka, Jose Cuervo Tequila and Johnnie Walker for the spot.

According to YouGov data, Kahlúa is described by fans as “distinctive, tasty, good quality, original and classic”.

The expression has a 42% positive opinion rating and is slightly more popular among women (44%).

The brand reported a 3.08% increase in 2016, making it the fourth best-selling liqueur brand in the world, according to our Brand Champions report, which could be attributed to the rising popularity of coffee-flavoured cocktails.

9. Captain Morgan

Diageo-owned rum brand Captain Morgan was described by fans as “good value for money, good quality, refreshing, trustworthy and must-have”.

The rum brand is most popular with Generation X (49%) and is more popular among men than women.

In the US, the brand recently expanded its portfolio of shot-inspired spirits with a watermelon variant and a coconut-flavoured expression. Diageo also tweaked the bottle design of its Captain Morgan rum in the US to create a “more modern brand visual identity”.

8. Jim Beam

Beam Suntory’s Bourbon brand Jim Beam enters the most popular list at number eight. The YouGov poll found that 43% had a positive opinion of the brand, while 14% had a negative opinion. Only 11% of those surveyed had not heard of the brand.

Last year, Beam Suntory expanded the Jim Beam range with the launch of a vanilla-flavoured Bourbon in the US. The launch was supported by Jim Beam’s global brand partner, actress Mila Kunis, who featured in social and digital content around the official campaign last autumn.

The brand also launched a ‘smart’ decanter, which can answer questions and serve shots of Bourbon, providing fans with a high-tech way to enjoy the country’s native spirit.

7. Grey Goose

French vodka brand Grey Goose nabbed the seventh spot on the list and was described by fans as “ good quality, smooth and distinctive”. Most popular with millennials, Grey Goose is one of two vodka brands to make the list.

Earlier this year, the brand celebrated double-digit sales growth following its winter wonderland activation at Toronto Pearson Airport. Brand owner Bacardi used its heritage to target visitors through campaigns at Melbourne International Airport and Paris Charles De Gaulle airport.  

6. Seagram’s

The only gin brand to make the top 10 is Seagram’s in a respectable sixth-place position. The brand’s history stretches back to 1857, and today Seagram’s reigns supreme in the US as the market’s top gin.

There’s no sign of flavour fatigue here, with the likes of Lime Twisted and Pineapple Twisted expressions boosting the favour of the core Extra Dry Gin line.

5. Crown Royal

Most popular among Generation X and Baby Boomers is Diageo’s Canadian whisky brand Crown Royal.

Diageo recently enlisted comedian JB Smoove to front Crown Royal’s new campaign, created to help boost the Canadian whisky brand’s flavoured portfolio.

The brand’s Generosity platform also seems to be working for Crown Royal, which has seen it drive gains in equity and category share, according to Diageo’s half-year 2017/18 results. In the North American region, net sales for Crown Royal grew 4% with accelerated growth for Crown Royal Deluxe and Crown Royal Regal Apple growth, partially offset by Crown Royal Vanilla’s slow down in the first half of last year.

4. Baileys

The second liqueur to make the list is Diageo-owned cream liqueur brand Baileys at number four. The brand’s popularity could be attributed to increased marketing spend and new expressions, including the launch of a strawberries and cream variant in the US this year.

Earlier this year, Diageo re-released its dairy-free, gluten-free variant Baileys Almande to grant it “certified vegan” status in the US, and meet growing demand from the vegan community.

In Diageo’s half-year 2017/18 results, Baileys’ growth “accelerated” compared with last year attributed to the launch of a new campaign reminding consumers of its indulgent treat positioning over the holidays.

3. Smirnoff

It comes as no surprise that Diageo’s Smirnoff brand has entered the list, what with it being one of the world’s best-selling vodkas. A strong 51% of those polled have a positive opinion of the brand, while a mere 15% hold a negative opinion.

Smirnoff has benefited from a campaign involving celebrity influencers, new ‘quality’ packaging and local activations.

Earlier this year, Smirnoff extended its Equalizing Music campaign by partnering with Spotify to promote equality for women musicians ahead of International Women’s Day in March.

The brand also unveiled a watermelon-flavoured variant as part of its Smirnoff Sourced vodka range.

2. Bacardi

The world’s best-selling rum brand is also one of the most popular spirits in the US, scoring the coveted second spot.

Bacardi is described by fans as: “classic, good quality, refreshing, familiar and trustworthy”.

The brand recently unveiled its latest effort to tap into premiumisation with the launch of two new expressions: Bacardi Añejo Cuatro and Bacardi Gran Reserva Diez.

Meanwhile, the brand continued its Sound of Rum campaign with the launch of a limited-edition rum in collaboration with Trinidadian DJ and music producer Jillionaire, who has been appointed as the brand’s ‘minister of rum’.

1. Jack Daniel’s

Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s brand has grabbed the top spot as the US’s most popular spirits brand, according to YouGov.

Jack Daniel’s is described by fans as: ‘good quality, never gets old, well made, reliable and must have’.

The company’s underlying net sales growth in the first half of fiscal 2018 was boosted by Jack Daniel’s, which was up 7% (10% reported). The brand experienced “solid increases” across most major markets, including “sizeable gains” in emerging markets

The brand also recently unveiled a new rye expression in the US, described as a “versatile whiskey with a balance of flavours”.

The brand has also built on ready-to-drink serves with the launch of a Southern Peach expression.

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