In the 2022 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, William Grant & Sons described how it has benefited from a consistent and balanced strategy.

For Colin Rochester, Managing Director ANZ of William Grant and Sons, the challenges of the pandemic have revealed the strength of the company’s team.

“I took great pride in the genuine support our local team offered to each other to thrive and survive in the last year,” Rochester said.

“It was a reflection of our great culture and an acknowledgement that we are a family-owned business, and that we operate through our belief in the values of the business.”

Rochester credits this strength for ensuring the company is entering this new year with the wind in its sails.

“Despite 2021 having been uncertain at best, thanks to the agility of our local team, and continued strength in customer relationships, we are carrying excellent momentum into 2022,” he said.

In particular, Rochester is looking forward to maintaining the William Grant & Sons ‘triple win’ strategy – one that delivers success for the consumer, customer and business.

“What this means is a continued focus on our growth strategy for the whisky portfolio, led by Glenfiddich, delivering a premium and distinctive leadership position for Hendrick’s Gin and driving market innovation through Monkey Shoulder,” Rochester explained.

With the on-premise shuttered for months at a time during 2021, traditional avenues to market have been closed to brands. This led William Grant & Sons to devise imaginative and unorthodox campaigns, working with designers and creatives.

As Rochester explained: “These cultural initiatives and collaborations, driven by the local brand ambassadors, have exceeded expectations.”

2021 also brought changes to Australian drinking habits, with disruption to the on-premise resulting in a rise in at home consumption and new possibilities for retailers.

“What 2021 has brought into focus is the opportunities around the at-home occasion, with consumers looking to prepare, serve and enjoy premium whisky and cocktails at-home,” Rochester said.

William Grant & Sons leapt on this opportunity, releasing its new range of Batch and Bottle premade cocktails in November 2021, which makes the at-home cocktail uncomplicated, while using well-known brands. Rochester believes these trends will continue into 2022, especially the movement towards more premium products.

“Consumers are still looking to enjoy premium quality over quantity at-home and in the on-trade,” he said. “The ongoing trend of ‘drink less, but better’ plays into not only our premium portfolio, but our value of ‘be responsible.’”

Nevertheless, 2022 will pose its own challenges to William Grant & Sons, with changes to customer taste, and pandemic conditions, coming thick and fast.

Rochester hopes the company will be able to maintain its imaginative approach to marketing, and noted: “The challenges will be to always be ahead of the curve in terms of consumer and customer trends, tastes and preferences with our brands, and to promote them in the most creative, distinctive ways.”

Premium brands strong in 2021

Both Glenfiddich and The Balvenie were identified as star performers in the William Grant & Sons portfolio in the last year, with Rochester lauding the whiskies’ ability to attract more advocates and retain customers.

Meanwhile, another Scotch brand, Monkey Shoulder, impressed by drawing in younger drinkers, despite on-premise disruptions. Rochester also highlighted Hendrick’s Gin as maintaining its strong position in an increasingly competitive field.

Read more from the 2022 National Liquor News Leaders Forum here.

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