Scotch Whisky Brand Champion 2022: Johnnie Walker
Diageo’s Johnnie Walker took a significant hit when the pandemic struck in 2020, resulting in a sales loss of more than four million nine-litre cases. Defiantly, the brand stuck to its ‘keep walking’ slogan, and its efforts more than paid off in 2021.
The Scotch Whisky Brand Champion 2022 soared past its pre-pandemic level – by more than 500,000 cases – to hit 19.1m cases, an increase of 35.4% compared with 2020.
“Johnnie Walker has always been a progressive brand, and it’s that commitment to moving forward which has been at the forefront of what we’ve done over the past year,” says Julie Bramham, Johnnie Walker’s global brand director. “Our ‘Keep Walking’ mantra is the perfect articulation of that commitment. The new Keep Walking work is inherently about positivity – it’s an unapologetic rallying cry of optimism.
“What we’re excited about is that we’ve been able to launch this latest chapter through an approach that works in a really agile way, globally and locally.”
Diageo opened its eight-floor Johnnie Walker visitor experience in Edinburgh last September. Meanwhile, key campaigns have clearly resonated with consumers overseas.
As part of the Keep Walking push, the brand launched local partnerships in more that 20 countries, each with its own cultural context, challenges and opportunities.
“In these countries we’ve been working with cultural change makers that ‘walk the walk’ to find locally relevant ways to revive social spaces in local communities and create actions on the ground that drive positive impact,” the spokesperson added.
Innovative new launches also played an important role in boosting Johnnie Walker sales in 2021. Notable new product developments included the fourth release in the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare series, with a Pittyvaich bottling.
The brand also brought out its High Rye whisky, made with a mash bill of 60% rye. Looking to the brand’s future, innovation will be key to maintaining the brand’s momentum over the next year.
“We’ve always looked to innovate and find new ways of making this wonderful liquid even better and more enjoyable for drinkers,” says Bramham. “That is something that is important to Scotch as a whole, and for us innovation is part of what we do, what we have always done – it’s in our DNA. So that is what we are looking to do: push the boundaries of what is possible in whisky.”
Looking across the rest of Diageo’s million-case-selling portfolio, Old Parr staged a strong comeback to re-join the million-case ranks. The brand had plummeted to 0.7m cases in 2020, but enjoyed its best year to date with a 67.6% increase in 2021 to 1.2m cases.
White Horse also continued its year-on-year growth (up by 26.9%), as did Black & White (up by 9.3%). Pernod Ricard-owned Ballantine’s also came out strong in 2021, beating its 2019 volume by almost 1m cases thanks to a 24.4% sales jump.
Meanwhile, La Martiniquaise-Bardinet-owned Sir Edward’s enjoyed an 8.6% leap. The only single malts in the million-case ranking – Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet – now sit nail-bitingly close to one another, with fewer than 250,000 cases separating the brands’ sales.
Just two Scotch whisky brands saw slight dips in volume sales in this year’s report: La Martiniquaise-Bardinet’s Label 5 (down by 3.4%) and William Peel (down by 0.4%).
Figures: million 9l-case sales
|Grant’s||William Grant & Sons||4.5||4.6||4.2||3.6||4.1||15.2%|
|Chivas Regal||Pernod Ricard||4.2||4.5||4.4||3.2||4.1||30.4%|
|Black & White||Diageo||2.4||2.7||2.8||2.9||3.2||9.3%|
|William Peel||Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits||3.1||3.0||2.8||2.7||-0.4%|
|Label 5||La Martiniquaise‐Bardinet||2.6||2.6||2.7||2.6||2.6||-3.4%|
|Sir Edward’s||La Martiniquaise‐Bardinet||1.6||1.6||1.8||1.8||1.9||8.6%|
|Teacher’s Highland Cream||Beam Suntory||1.0||1.0||1.3||1.3||1.3||0.8%|
|100 Pipers||Pernod Ricard||1.4||1.5||1.6||1.3||1.7||25.4%|
|Clan Campbell||Pernod Ricard||1.6||1.5||1.4||1.3||1.3||0.8%|
|Glenfiddich||William Grant & Sons||1.3||1.4||1.5||1.2||1.4||19.3%|
|The Glenlivet||Pernod Ricard||1.1||1.2||1.3||1.2||1.5||26.7%|