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When is a brand not a brand? When it’s gin!

Three hundred years after the British  ‘Gin Craze’ of the first half of the 18th Century, the world of liquor consumption has been hit all anew by a multitudinous sprouting of hundreds of new brands of mother’s ruin. As a result the most telling fact about the gin category is that by far (37%) of the gin category is made up of ‘others’. 


The market for premium gins is booming, with new-comers knocking incumbents shattering to the ground. Tanqueray, for example, is struggling to keep a slick, young image. And, despite winning a 2019 branding award for its addition to the trend for pink gin, long-established Gordon’s continues to look like someone’s Dad at a teenage party. Even Hendrix, the bellweather of the coming tide of trendy gins and first to tap into a tongue-in-cheek Victorian apothecary aesthetic, is now lost in the mix.


Usually, when the fever of fashion animates an old product (it’s actually just flavored vodka, by the way), a shiny new emperor rises to dominate the market. But the curious case of gin may well be an indicator of what’s going on in the new consumer market. No one brand of gin currently looks set to lead the herd because the cool new brands are appealing to  Millennials and Generation Z chiefly through packaging


The approach assumes that gin swillers are not looking to be loyal; they’re looking to be delighted -- right now, right here, at the bar. What could be more ephemeral than a mixed drink? Why not, then, enjoy the pleasure of choosing, spontaneously, from a gleaming, backlit display of stunningly beautiful contenders behind the bar? That may well be why Tanqueray’s brilliant 2018 ad campaign was a miss -- it took a traditional stance by pushing a quirky lifestyle message, instead of pushing a beautiful experiential campaign, as it had in the past


With packaging now king in the world of gin, we can expect more gorgeous bottles, albeit supported by some advertising and social spend. But here’s the opportunity to create a leader brand and not just another beautiful bottle: Clever branding employs a deeper, more engaging strategy, message and campaign in order to raise up a single product to become a category of one. Will we see the equivalent of Absolut vodka in the gin market, or do sales of trendy tonic going flat in the UK indicate the hipster herd has already moved onto the next big thing in libations, like vermouth? 


Brands have an opportunity to stand out by offering both beauty AND a compelling underlying narrative that sets it apart. Is your company ready to do this and to own your conversation and category? Talk to Ideon!


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