SB meets… Lucia Alliegro, Ron Carúpano
The Venezuelan rum brand has its heart set on world domination – and has the perfect plan to achieve its lofty ambitions, as the company’s marketing director explains.
How long have you been working Ron Carúpano?
I have been working with Ron Carúpano for over two years, working to take the brand to the world.
What makes Ron Carúpano stand out in the rum category?
Without sounding arrogant, but Ron Carúpano is the signature for premium rum in Venezuela. It is an emblem for the democratisation of the consumption of excellent quality rum available through different price ranges and all consumer segments. Coming from Venezuela, rum is a very important part of our identity; for us, it is much more than a drink. It means heritage, tradition and represents a window to share with the rest of the world this exquisite distillate, unique in its kind.
The rum category is experimenting and working on creating a premium image. Consumers are becoming much more critical about what they drink and demand to know what is inside the bottle, who it was made by, and why it tastes a certain way. So for Ron Carúpano, I believe we are not just any rum, we are an ‘honest rum’. What we mean by that is that all the organoleptic characteristics that you can find in our liquids come from our unaltered ageing and blending process, and more than 250 years of blending mastery that have helped us with innovation, quality and heritage. We have over 60 awards in different renowned competitions to prove our quality.
Ron Carúpano’s ageing facilities are located just two miles from the Caribbean Sea in Carúpano, in eastern Venezuela. The temperature and climate means our rum ages three times as fast, but we add no sugars or artificial additives to our rum.
Do you make spirits for third-party brands?
We only produce rum for the Ron Carúpano brand. We create spirits in the value segment to satisfy the Venezuelan internal market demands, but we only export our aged rums portfolio, as there is a relevant market opportunity regarding premium rums consumption in the international arena.
How would you describe the ‘core range’ of Ron Carúpano?
For us, there are different ways we can describe our core range. First, occasion is king. That’s a statement that applies throughout our brand because we would like our consumers to know there is a Ron Carúpano for every occasion, from dinner with friends to a party or celebration. We have every variant that’s perfect for that occasion and elevate it to the next level. We can take people on a journey of discovery. From standard to ultra-premium rums, we have a different variant for each stage of life.
We also have the only female master blender in Venezuela, Carmen López de Bastidas, and she’s been with us for 31 years. That’s a very, very big deal for us. She brings an elegant quality to the rum without losing the rum’s character and personality, with sweetness, acidic development and a bitter aftertaste, all perfectly balanced.
Which are your most successful markets?
Last year, 2020, was a year that we all will remember for many reasons. For Ron Carúpano, we choose to remember it for its traces of resilience and reinvention. Last year, Ron Carúpano expanded internationally and secured joint ventures with leading spirits importers. Our efforts have been around penetrating the American and European markets. Last year, we consolidated our presence in the USA, securing joint ventures with very important distributors in the United States. Europe and the USA have shown an open and steady rum market opportunity for Ron Carúpano. We also completely changed our brand look and feel, our bottles and our image, and that was why 2020 was such an important year for us. Also, the Latin America countries close to us cannot be left behind since they provide important international demand.
Which is your priority: on-trade or off-trade?
We are focused on both retailers and bars. We are present in the on-trade, including bars, restaurants and hotels, for example. But we are also focusing on the off-trade, which are supermarkets, liquor stores and boutiques. So we would like to penetrate both segments.
What other markets do you want to expand to?
This is not a small market, but one of our grand ambitions is we want to conquer Asia. We know we need to understand how to intelligently penetrate this market because it’s culturally very different to Latin America and Europe. But consumers in Asia are very educated regarding spirits. So this is our next goal towards brand globalisation.
Can you tell me about any upcoming projects?
So we have two types of category; we have our standard, premium, super-premium and ultra-premium rums. But we also have our Prestige collection of rums, which includes a 25-year-old single barrel rum. We only produce 500 bottles of that variant a year.
This year we are relaunching our collection of Prestige rums, they’ve been completely revamped and renewed on the outside – but the liquid has not been touched, only the packaging. That’s our biggest news of the year. We are leaders in the premium rum category, and we like to be inventive and pioneers, and the first ones to do something.
What do you find most exciting about rum at the moment?
It’s the changing consumer views and seeing rum gain relevance within the brown spirits segment, and capitalising on the popularity of other brown distillates like Scotch whisky. It was a lack of information that drove consumers to choose rum within commercial segments. When we ask, ‘why is rum being seen as a more premium drink?’, the answer is simple: consumers are beginning to move past the misconception that rum is just a fun drink, or a mixer lacking character.
Consumers now understand that rum is the most diverse spirit in the world and people are embracing both its mixability and also rum’s more sophisticated side, with opinions moving more towards discernment, heritage and craft. This is extremely important for Ron Carúpano because we have more than 250 years of experience and the highest quality standards.
What more can we expect to see from Ron Carúpano in the coming year?
We want to elevate consumers’ experiences and create luxury drinking experiences. For us, occasion is king, and that is why we have created rums for social interactions, or for work occasions, to create unforgettable conversations and celebrate together. We encourage people to toast with Ron Carúpano, simply because, why not? Next year we will be pleased to keep landing alliances that allow us to go beyond our frontiers. Ron Carúpano’s globalisation is an ambition we are working tirelessly to achieve.