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Liqueurs Brand Champion 2022: Malibu

Malibu became “increasingly popular as part of cocktail making at home” during the global lockdowns

The liqueurs category has gone from strength to strength. Consumers have been eager to expand their drinks cabinets with coffee flavours or cream-based bottlings, while others have sought out liqueurs as a lower-ABV option.

The liqueurs sector saw a 7% volume rise to 121.2m in 2021, up from 113.3m in 2020, according to Euromonitor.

In the UK, liqueur sales soared by 27% to more than 44m bottles sold in the year to 11 September 2021, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, which attributed this growth to the popularity of colourful liqueurs. By value, sales hit £561m (US$470m) in the UK.

One brand that thrived during the pandemic and beyond was rum-based liqueur Malibu, which took this year’s Liqueurs Brand Champion title. The Pernod Ricard-owned brand rose by 11.1% to 4.9 million cases in 2021, adding 1m cases since the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

According to a brand spokesperson, Malibu brought its long-term “summer strategy to life in new and engaging ways” by tapping into consumer trends with new products such as Malibu Watermelon and Malibu Strawberry.

In October 2021, Malibu entered the ready-to-drink (RTD) sector with a canned range of rum-based cocktails. “We truly believe that RTDs are driving a halo to the Malibu master brand, both by introducing the Malibu brand to new consumers as well as by driving ‘new news’ for the master brand,” the spokesperson says.

Malibu also notes that its products became “increasingly popular as part of cocktail making at home”, including in Piña Coladas and Strawberry Daiquiris. The brand says its “positive summer energy” helped Malibu to grow its volumes throughout the pandemic as consumers resonated with the brand during Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

The firm also didn’t hold back on its communication efforts. “As a brand we realised it was important to keep talking with our fan base when the world was volatile,” the spokesperson notes. “We didn’t pause our spend. We found a good and relevant tone that engaged our audience and kept on communicating with them. People still wanted the feeling of summer.”

The spokesperson says the firm will “continue building on last year’s success” through its new global campaign, Welcome to Malibu. “It’s a brand refresh with the aim of reframing the traditional Malibu summer occasion from a time and place to a mindset that you can find anywhere and anytime,” the spokesperson says.

Malibu will continue to roll out summer content with a focus on engaging content on social media. Several new products are also planned for the next 12 months.

The spokesperson says Malibu will aim to boost its presence internationally, after expanding outside of its core US market in the past year: “We are on track of globalising the brand.” Malibu has seen “strong growth” in markets such as the UK, Germany, Australia and South Korea.

Looking across the rest of the top-performing liqueurs, Diageo’s Baileys grew by 23.2% to reach 8.8m cases. Coffee-flavoured Kahlúa registered its first growth in five years, up by 10.6%. Stock Spirits’ Lubelska reported a slight drop of 0.6% and Choya witnessed a double-digit decline to 1.1m cases.

Distell’s Amarula returned to the million-case ranks with a 28.9% rise to 1.2m.

This year, French firm Rémy Cointreau declined to disclose figures for its orange-flavoured triple sec Cointreau.

Figures: million 9l-case sales
Brand Owner 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 %+/-
Baileys Diageo 6.9 7.1 7.4 7.1 8.8 23.2%
Malibu Pernod Ricard 3.7 3.7 3.9 4.4 4.9 11.1%
De Kuyper De Kuyper 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.3 3.5 4.8%
Żołądkowa Gorzka Stock Spirits Group 1.4 1.3 1.5 1.8 1.9 5.6%
Lubelska Stock Spirits Group 1.5 1.5 1.9 1.9 1.8 -0.6%
Kahlúa Pernod Ricard 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.8 10.6%
Amarula Distell 1.2 1.2 1.0 0.9 1.2 28.9%
Choya Choya Umeshu 1.2 1.3 1.2 1.3 1.1 -12.2%

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