Despite the challenges of last year’s economic landscape, the people behind Brown-Forman’s Australian operations were able to come together to deliver another strong year of results for the company in 2023, according to Eveline Albarracin, Vice President and Managing Director of Brown-Forman ANZPI IMENAT.

“We have a saying at Brown-Forman: ‘Nothing better in the market’, and it’s testament to this and our strong founding values that our people show up every day to make a difference, which I’m pleased to say is working,” Albarracin said.

In 2023, that culture helped Brown-Forman Australia to be recognised for the second consecutive year with a ‘Great Place to Work’ accreditation.

“There is also plenty to celebrate across the Brown-Forman portfolio, with Jack Daniel’s maintaining its position as Australia’s favourite spirits trademark and the introduction of Gin Mare and Diplomático Rum into the family, broadening our offering and growth opportunities in the super-premium segment,” Albarracin added.

One strong performing segment of 2023 was super premium whisky. Albarracin noted key stars such as Jack Daniel’s Bonded, which saw double-digit growth since its launch, leading more consumers to experiment and trade up within the Jack Daniel’s brand; and The Woodford Reserve, which has remained a “real crowd favorite”, driving record performance in the off-premise during gifting occasions.

Brown-Forman’s ability to cater to consumer trends has meant there were also many other bright spots in the widespread portfolio throughout 2023. For example, rising interest around cocktails, especially margaritas, caused great success for El Jimador, one of the market leading tequilas in Australia. Meanwhile, consumer demand remained high for quality and flavour forward RTDs, allowing the Jack Daniel’s RTD range to deliver continued growth for Brown-Forman partners.

Consistent value into 2024

Going into this year, Albarracin said the immediate focus for Brown-Forman is not a fleeting one.

“Our focus is to ‘think and act for the long term’ – it’s the benefit of being a family run and majority family-owned business that we have the opportunity to do this and it’s why in 2024 our strategy will remain broadly consistent with the last few years.

Investing in our people, building a world-renowned culture, and building sustainable category growth while supporting all of our key customer partners,” Albarracin said.

As cost-of-living pressures stay ever[1]present in consumer minds, Albarracin said the importance of brands delivering ‘value’ has never been higher, and this is what Brown-Forman will endeavour to do in 2024 to battle economic headwinds.

“Value is not necessarily about being the cheapest, it’s more than that. It’s about enhancing the consumer experience, being available at the right moments and occasions and doing that in bold and authentic ways,” she said.

“Across the Brown-Forman portfolio we continue to focus on building authentic and seamless connections with consumers, leveraging insights and data to ensure we are present at the right times and places to drive sustainable growth for our brands.”

On trend this year

Albarracin has tipped three major trends in the spirit market in 2024:

  • Tequila has the potential to become the new gin, driven by the widespread interest in margarita cocktails and the growth that we see overseas.
  • In times of economic uncertainty consumers tend to default to large, trusted brands like Jack Daniel’s, so I would expect category leaders to fare well.
  • We are seeing the growing importance of new and exciting flavours, so I anticipate there will be continued RTD innovation and flavour developments.

This article originally appeared in the 2024 Leaders Forum issue of National Liquor News.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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