November 22 2023  |  Spirits & Tobacco

Brown-Forman: pioneering innovations and embracing traditions in GTR

By Wendy Morley

The Brown-Forman GTR Leadership Team

The launch of Jack Daniel’s American Single Malt is a pivotal moment in Brown-Forman’s history, showcasing the company’s commitment to innovation while respecting its rich heritage. Stéphane Morizet, Marketing Director at Brown-Forman, encapsulates the significance of this new offering: “Our flagship brand Jack Daniel’s is a blend of tradition, quality, and innovation. The newest expression from the Jack Daniel’s trademark, the Jack Daniel’s American Single Malt, is really big news in the world of whiskies,” he says.

The development of Jack Daniel's American Single Malt has taken over 10 years

This groundbreaking venture involves the creation of a meticulously crafted malt from 100% malted barley, representing not just an expansion of the company’s portfolio, but a foray into new realms of taste and experience. The development journey of over a decade has culminated in a product that seamlessly fuses traditional methods with modern flair, bringing a unique character to the whiskey market that’s distinct from other offerings by Brown-Forman. This initiative invites connoisseurs and new enthusiasts alike to discover and savor uncharted flavors in whiskey, further solidifying the company’s position as a leader in spirit innovation

Revving up with McLaren Racing: a dynamic partnership

The recent announcement of the multi-year partnership between Jack Daniel’s and McLaren Racing marks the brand’s thrilling entry into the world of Formula One racing in 2023. This collaboration brings together over 155 years of whiskey-making heritage with the prestigious and technologically advanced realm of Formula One racing.

Stéphane Morizet, Marketing Director at Brown-Forman, says the company wants to continue to best leverage the limited Jack Daniel’s x McLaren Edition at selected activations

This move is not just about brand visibility; it’s a strategic endeavor to connect with new, diverse audiences and showcase the brand’s legacy on a global, dynamic stage. The partnership with McLaren Racing is a testament to Brown-Forman’s forward-thinking approach, seeking innovative platforms to amplify its presence and appeal to a broader consumer base.

Expanding horizons

Brown-Forman’s acquisition of Ron Diplomático Rum marks a strategic diversification and expansion of its global presence. The addition of this revered brand into Brown-Forman’s portfolio represents a significant step in the company’s ongoing effort to cater to the evolving tastes of consumers worldwide.

“The introduction of Ron Diplomático is the entry into a very successful growing spirits category that is new to us.” Fiona West, VP, Marketing Director, Emerging International, Brown-Forman, says of the strategic move. “The GTR landscape continues to evolve into a luxury shopping experience. This makes the GTR channel the perfect stage for super premium rum and provides an impeccable platform for the launch of new, upscale rum expressions, ensuring heightened visibility and appeal to discerning travelers seeking exclusive indulgences.”

Ron Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva is now available in GTR in 70cl ($42 per 70cl, RRP)- with plans to expand the offer in the next few months with a 100cl format. Diplomático Single Vintage 2008 is also available to GTR ($120 the 70cl, RRP), as well as the Diplomático Ambassador for $250 (RRP, 70cl)

Ron Diplomático’s rich heritage, exceptional quality and diverse product range resonate well with Brown-Forman’s principles, allowing the company to explore new expressions in the rum category. This integration not only enriches Brown-Forman’s product range but also strengthens its position in the global spirits market, offering a more comprehensive selection to consumers. The introduction of Ron Diplomático is a vibrant addition to the Brown-Forman family, reflecting the company’s commitment to embracing diverse spirit traditions and providing a sophisticated yet accessible experience to consumers.

Green commitment

Sustainability is a cornerstone of Brown-Forman’s operational philosophy, according to Morizet. The company is deeply committed to reducing its environmental impact through various initiatives. “Sustainability is certainly a major area where Brown-Forman is very active,” he says. “To reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we prioritized renewable energy use, reduced the weight of our packaging, continued to source recycled glass for our bottles, and supported regenerative agriculture practices.”

Jack Daniel's 50mL sustainable bottle

In fiscal 2023, Brown-Forman adopted a multifaceted approach to meet a wide range of sustainability targets, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, utilizing renewable energy, and pioneering sustainable packaging solutions. These efforts are not only aimed at minimizing the company’s environmental footprint but also at supporting broader global sustainability goals. Brown-Forman’s dedication to sustainability underscores its role as a responsible corporate citizen and reflects a growing consumer demand for environmentally conscious brands.

Resilience and growth

The global pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to the GTR channel, but Brown-Forman’s response was marked by remarkable resilience and adaptability. Morizet says the company came out of this challenging period much stronger. “The TR channel sustained strong growth with a reported net sales increase of 41% driven by higher volumes across much of the portfolio, led by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. While global air passenger traffic is approaching pre-covid levels, we have seen spirits bouncing back faster than any other category in GTR. We have also witnessed record bookings in the cruise channel leading into calendar year 2023.”

The company’s ability to navigate these turbulent times and emerge stronger is indicative of its robust business model and deep understanding of the market. The recovery in the TR channel, driven by a surge in premium spirit sales, highlights the enduring appeal of quality spirits among global travelers. Brown-Forman’s success in this sector is a testament to its strategic foresight, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to quality.

A surge in sales of premium spirits like Woodford Reserve helped Brown-Forman to emerge from turbulent times stronger than ever

Digital and experiential

In the ever-evolving landscape of global travel retail, Brown-Forman is at the forefront of adopting innovative marketing strategies. “Digital technologies enable travel retailers to gather vast amounts of consumer data,” West says. “Our task as an industry supplier is to provide the customized and emotionalizing content around our brands.”

The shift towards digital and experiential marketing reflects a broader change in consumer behavior and expectations. Brown-Forman’s focus on leveraging digital technologies and data analytics allows for more personalized and engaging customer interactions, enhancing brand loyalty and consumer satisfaction. The company’s strategy in the GTR sector is a blend of traditional marketing principles and modern digital tactics, aiming to create memorable experiences that resonate with the lifestyles and preferences of contemporary consumers.

Looking ahead

The future looks bright for Brown-Forman, with plans to launch GTR exclusives and limited editions that promise to captivate consumers. Morizet hints at what’s to come: “With the launch of the innovative Jack Daniel’s American Single Malt pop-up recently in London Heathrow and Changi Singapore, we have an exciting combination of digital and instore elements that makes the experience even more extraordinary for the traveler.”

These initiatives represent a blend of tradition and innovation, as the company continues to find new ways to engage consumers and enhance the appeal of its brands. Brown-Forman’s forward-looking approach, coupled with its commitment to quality and innovation, positions it well to continue shaping the world of spirits in the years to come.

“We are actively finalizing the integration of the two newcomers Ron Diplomático and Gin Mare into our GTR portfolio,” says Morizet

Committed to GTR

In concluding, Stéphane Morizet reaffirms Brown-Forman’s dedication to the travel retail industry: “Our journey in GTR is not just about business; it’s about creating connections, sharing experiences, and celebrating moments.” This sentiment encapsulates the essence of Brown-Forman’s approach to the global spirits market – a blend of business acumen and a deep appreciation for the cultural and social aspects of spirit consumption. With a rich history and a clear vision for the future, Brown-Forman continues to be a driving force in the global travel retail sector, setting trends and pioneering innovations in the world of spirits.

“To grow Brown-Forman for the next generation, we know it will require strong organic growth of our existing brands, as well as innovative and compelling line extensions and new additions to our portfolio," says Morizet. "Our portfolio shows that we achieved each of these in FY23 and we will certainly nurture that balanced approach for the years to come.”

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