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Dark Spirits - US - October 2014

“Dark spirits, whiskey in particular, have managed to grow sales fairly strongly in recent years, yet they remain far from routine in consumers’ alcohol-consumption routines. Flavor innovation is drawing the interest of some consumers, but such efforts may be overshadowed by the rush of RTD alcoholic beverages.”

– William Roberts, Jr., Senior Food and Drink Analyst

This report covers the following issues:

  • Dark spirits remain a niche product, consumed by roughly half of adults
  • Building dark spirits brand awareness among young adults
  • Can brandy, cognac, and Armagnac escape the shadow of whiskey and establish a niche of loyal consumers?

White spirits continue to maintain a steady rate of growth, but its pace overall has slowed with the drop in growth rates within the vodka segment. Flavored vodkas served to draw consumer attention to the category, but with a slowdown in the rate of introductions of flavored vodkas has come a slowdown in the category as a whole.

Manufacturers will have to capitalize on consumer interest in the strengths of white spirits, particularly in the area of crafting cocktails and mixed drinks, as well as from increased awareness of cocktails in general stemming from their appearances in high-profile television shows.

This report includes white spirits sold for home preparation and/or consumption. The following types of white spirits are analyzed:

  • Vodka
  • Rum, including dark, aged, and/or spiced rum
  • Gin
  • Tequila

This report excludes the following categories, which are covered in Mintel’s Dark Spirits -- US, October 2014:

  • Whiskey/whisky, which includes the following subsegments:
  • Canadian whisky
  • Straight American whiskey, including bourbon and unaged white whiskey (also known as moonshine; the report covers legally sold, unaged white whiskey marketed as moonshine, not the illegally made varieties often associated with the term in various regions of the US).
  • Scotch whisky
  • Blended American whiskey
  • Irish whiskey
  • Brandy and cognac, as well as Armagnac

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Consumer survey data
              • Advertising creative
                • Abbreviations and terms
                  • Abbreviations
                    • Terms
                      • Terms
                      • Executive Summary

                          • Flavoring innovation, continued growth in premium push total distilled spirits to new sales heights
                            • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2009-19
                          • Slight, but steady growth in dark spirits volume sales
                            • Figure 2: US volume sales of dark spirits, by segment, 2009-14
                          • Straight whiskey remains the strongest dark spirits segment, with Canadian versions a growing presence
                            • Figure 3: US volume sales of whiskey/whisky, by type, 2009-14
                          • Other alcoholic beverage types vie for Millennial attention
                            • Figure 4: Alcoholic beverage purchases, by generations – Any consumption, February 2014
                          • Value prices resonate more with young dark spirits consumers, mid-range pricing more popular overall
                            • Figure 5: Where dark spirits are purchased, by age, July 2014
                          • Men consume dark spirits at almost twice the level of women
                            • Figure 6: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by gender, July 2014
                          • Whiskey most often consumed with a mixer, while brandy is mostly enjoyed straight up
                            • Figure 7: How dark spirits are consumed, July 2014
                          • Dark spirits consumed most often with friends, family
                            • Figure 8: Spirits and socialization – With, by spirits and socialization – When, July 2014
                          • Favorite brands resonate most strongly with older consumers, younger drinkers appear to have yet to pick a favorite
                            • Figure 9: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by generations, July 2014
                          • Millennials most often drink dark spirits at home
                            • Figure 10: Spirits and socialization, by generations, July 2014
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                              • Dark spirits remain a niche product, consumed by roughly half of adults
                                • Issues
                                  • Insights
                                    • Building dark spirits brand awareness among young adults
                                      • Issues
                                        • Insights
                                          • Can brandy, cognac, and Armagnac escape the shadow of whiskey and establish a niche of loyal consumers?
                                            • Issues
                                              • Insights
                                              • Trend Application

                                                  • Trend: Sense of the Intense
                                                    • Trend: Why Buy
                                                      • Trend: Guiding Choice
                                                      • Market Size and Forecast

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Distilled spirits capitalize on flavorings for sales growth
                                                            • Figure 11: Total US sales and forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                            • Figure 12: Total US sales and forecast of distilled spirits, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2009-19
                                                          • Distilled spirits’ slow growth continues
                                                            • Figure 13: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                          • Forecast methodology
                                                          • Market Drivers

                                                            • Key points
                                                              • Diverse population drinking a diversity of dark spirits
                                                                • Figure 14: Dark spirits – Usage groups, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                              • Millennials regard inexpensive dark spirits as well as premium
                                                                • Figure 15: US population, by generation share, 2014
                                                                • Figure 16: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by generations, July 2014
                                                              • Spirits consumption highest in households with children
                                                                • Figure 17: Dark spirits – Usage groups, by presence of children in household, July 2014
                                                                • Figure 18: Households, by type, 1970-2012, in percent
                                                            • Competitive Context

                                                              • Key points
                                                                • Millennials lead in alcoholic beverage consumption, versatility
                                                                  • Figure 19: Alcoholic beverage purchases, by generations – Any consumption, February 2014
                                                                • Beer, wine top drinks to have with a meal
                                                                  • Figure 20: Occasions for alcoholic beverage consumption, February 2014
                                                                • Wine preferred during meals
                                                                  • Figure 21: Occasions for alcoholic beverage consumption, February 2014
                                                              • Segment Performance

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • Dark spirits demonstrate steady, if slight, growth
                                                                    • Figure 22: US volume sales of dark spirits, by segment, 2009-14
                                                                  • Flavors increase whiskey options
                                                                    • Figure 23: US volume sales of dark spirits, by segment, 2012 and 2014
                                                                  • Irish whiskey outpaces other dark spirits segments
                                                                    • Figure 24: US volume sales of whiskey/whisky, by type, 2009-14
                                                                  • Brandy, cognac, and Armagnac sales languish
                                                                    • Figure 25: US volume sales of brandy/cognac/Armagnac, 2009-14
                                                                • Retail Channels

                                                                  • Key points
                                                                    • Distilled spirits purchased mostly off-premise
                                                                      • Figure 26: US volume sales of dark and white distilled spirits, by channel, 2009-14
                                                                    • Liquor stores the destination of choice for dark spirits purchases
                                                                      • Figure 27: Where dark spirits are purchased, by age, July 2014
                                                                      • Figure 28: Where dark spirits are purchased, by gender, July 2014
                                                                    • Regardless of race, Hispanic origin, liquor stores are the source for dark spirits
                                                                      • Figure 29: Where dark spirits are purchased, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                    • Grocers nearly as popular as liquor stores in Midwest and West
                                                                      • Figure 30: Where dark spirits are purchased, by region, July 2014
                                                                  • Leading Companies and Marketing Strategies

                                                                    • Key points
                                                                      • Premium and small-batch releases drive dark spirits innovation
                                                                        • Figure 31: Crown Royal, “On Point With TGT”, TV spot, April 2014
                                                                        • Figure 32: Jim Beam, “Mila Kunis Makes History”, TV commercial, October 2014
                                                                        • Figure 33: Hennessy, “Never Stop. Never Settle Volume 1”, YouTube video, October 2014
                                                                        • Figure 34: Jack Daniel’s, “Frank The Man,” TV commercial, February 2014
                                                                        • Figure 35: Laphroaig, “Laphroaig Opinions Welcome”, promotional video, May 2014
                                                                    • Social Media – Dark Spirits

                                                                        • Key points
                                                                          • Market overview
                                                                            • Key social media metrics
                                                                              • Figure 36: Key social media metrics for select dark spirits brands, September 2014
                                                                            • Brand usage and awareness
                                                                              • Figure 37: Brand usage and awareness for select dark spirits brands, July 2014
                                                                            • Interactions with dark spirits brands
                                                                              • Figure 38: Interaction levels for select dark spirits brands, July 2014
                                                                            • Leading online campaigns
                                                                              • Lifestyle highlights
                                                                                • Content sharing
                                                                                  • What we think
                                                                                    • Online conversations
                                                                                      • Figure 39: Online conversations for select dark spirits brands, by week, Sept. 8, 2013-Sept. 7, 2014
                                                                                    • Where are people talking about dark spirits?
                                                                                      • Figure 40: Online conversations for select dark spirits brands, by page type, Sept. 8, 2013-Sept. 7, 2014
                                                                                    • What are people talking about?
                                                                                      • Figure 41: Topics of conversation for select dark spirits brands, Sept. 8, 2013-Sept. 7, 2014
                                                                                  • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                                    • Top product claims among dark spirits boast premium, ethical positioning
                                                                                      • Figure 42: Dark spirits launches (whiskey or brandy), by product claim, 2010-14*
                                                                                    • Ethical/environmentally friendly
                                                                                      • Crossover between alcoholic and non-alcoholic categories
                                                                                        • Small batch a premium trend
                                                                                        • The Consumer – Frequency of Consumption

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Dark spirits drinkers favor American Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey
                                                                                                • Figure 43: Frequency of consuming dark spirits, July 2014
                                                                                              • High-volume dark spirits consumers drink relatively similar amounts of the beverages
                                                                                                • Figure 44: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – User groups, July 2014
                                                                                              • Men vastly outnumber women in the consumption of dark spirits
                                                                                                  • Figure 45: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                • Opportunity to reach women with flavorful dark spirits
                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by dark spirits – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                • The Consumer – Consumption of Dark Spirits

                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                    • Dark spirits consumption skews younger
                                                                                                        • Figure 48: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                      • More Millennials drink dark spirits at social gatherings, away from home
                                                                                                          • Figure 49: Spirits and socialization, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                        • Favorite dark spirits brands impact older generations
                                                                                                            • Figure 50: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                        • The Consumer – Dark Spirits Attributes

                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                            • Dark spirits flavors resonate with all consumers, particularly women
                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                              • Indulgent flavors in dark spirits mostly appeal to those aged 22-34
                                                                                                                  • Figure 52: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                • Women desire indulgent-flavored dark spirits; men want spiced spirits
                                                                                                                    • Figure 53: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by gender and age, July 2014
                                                                                                                • The Consumer – Purchasing Dark Spirits

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Mid-range pricing of dark spirits garners more purchases than value pricing
                                                                                                                      • Figure 54: Where dark spirits are purchased, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                                    • Value pricing impacts the choice of younger consumers, who drink the most dark spirits
                                                                                                                        • Figure 55: Where dark spirits are purchased, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                      • More than a third of dark spirits consumers would like more private label options
                                                                                                                          • Figure 56: Flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, July 2014
                                                                                                                        • Millennial dark spirits drinkers most likely to respond to mid-range pricing
                                                                                                                            • Figure 57: Where dark spirits are purchased, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                                        • The Consumer – How Dark Spirits are Consumed

                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                            • Whiskey drinkers much more likely to consume the beverage on the rocks or with a mixer
                                                                                                                                • Figure 58: How dark spirits are consumed, July 2014
                                                                                                                                • Figure 59: How dark spirits are consumed, July 2014
                                                                                                                              • Millennials opt for whiskey straight up, though Baby Boomers more likely to drink flavored whiskey neat
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 60: Dark spirits neat/straight up, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: Dark spirits neat/straight up, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                                                • Men more likely to consume dark spirits on the rocks
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 62: Dark spirits on the rocks/over ice, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 63: Dark spirits on the rocks/over ice, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                                                  • Except for brandy among older consumers, whiskey with a mixer maintains a steady degree of popularity
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Dark spirits with a mixer, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Women more likely to feature dark spirits in a cocktail
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 65: Dark spirits in a cocktail, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                        • More Hispanics drink dark spirits than non-Hispanics
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 66: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Hispanics favor flavors but not necessarily dark spirits flavor
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 67: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 68: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 69: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 70: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 71: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 72: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Value-priced dark spirits resonate more strongly with Hispanic consumers
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 73: Where dark spirits are purchased, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Hispanics more likely to drink socially and as part of a meal
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 74: Spirits and socialization, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                                                        • Frequency of consuming dark spirits
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 75: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by household income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 76: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by presence of children in household, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 77: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 78: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by dark spirits – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 79: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by brandy – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 80: Frequency of consuming dark spirits – Any usage, by brand usage – Past year, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 81: Dark spirits – Usage groups, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 82: Dark spirits – Usage groups, by brandy – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 83: Brandy usage groups, by household income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 84: Brandy usage groups, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 85: Brandy usage groups, by presence of children in household, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 86: Brandy usage groups, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 87: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by presence of children in household, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 88: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by dark spirits – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 89: Characteristics when purchasing dark spirits, by brandy – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Where dark spirits are purchased
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 90: Where dark spirits are purchased, by dark spirits – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 91: Where dark spirits are purchased, by brandy – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Spirits and socialization
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 92: Spirits and socialization, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 93: Spirits and socialization, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 94: Spirits and socialization, by household income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 95: Spirits and socialization, by presence of children in household, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 96: Spirits and socialization, by dark spirits – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 97: Spirits and socialization, by brandy – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 98: Spirits and socialization – With, by spirits and socialization – When, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • How dark spirits are consumed
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 99: Dark spirits neat/straight up, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 100: Dark spirits on the rocks/over ice, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 101: Dark spirits with a mixer, by household income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 102: Dark spirits in a cocktail, by age, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 103: Dark spirits in a cocktail, by household income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 104: Dark spirits in a cocktail, by presence of children in household, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 105: Dark spirits in other beverage, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 106: Dark spirits in other beverage, by household income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 107: Dark spirits in other beverage, by generations, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 108: Spirits and socialization, by dark spirits neat/straight up, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 109: Flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 110: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by gender, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 111: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by household income, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 112: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by presence of children in household, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 113: Agreement with flavor, price, and packaging of dark spirits, by brandy – Usage groups, July 2014
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Social Media – Dark Spirits

                                                                                                                                        • Brand usage or awareness
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 114: Brand usage or awareness, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 115: Johnnie Walker usage or awareness, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 116: Hennessy usage or awareness, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 117: Jack Daniel’s usage or awareness, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 118: Maker’s Mark usage or awareness, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 119: Wild Turkey usage or awareness, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 120: Crown Royal usage or awareness, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Activities done
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 121: Activities done, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 122: Johnnie Walker – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 123: Johnnie Walker – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 124: Johnnie Walker – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 125: Johnnie Walker – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 126: Hennessy – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 127: Hennessy – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 128: Hennessy – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 129: Hennessy – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 130: Jack Daniel’s – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 131: Jack Daniel’s – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 132: Jack Daniel’s – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 133: Jack Daniel’s – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 134: Maker’s Mark – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 135: Maker’s Mark – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 136: Maker’s Mark – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 137: Maker’s Mark – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 138: Wild Turkey – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 139: Wild Turkey – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 140: Wild Turkey – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 141: Wild Turkey – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 142: Crown Royal – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 143: Crown Royal – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 144: Crown Royal – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 145: Crown Royal – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, July 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Key social media metrics
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 146: Key social media metrics for select dark spirits brands, September 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Online conversation
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 147: Online conversations for select dark spirits brands, by week, Sept. 8, 2013-Sept. 7, 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 148: Online conversations for select dark spirits brands, by page type, Sept. 8, 2013-Sept. 7, 2014
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 149: Topics of conversation for select dark spirits brands, Sept. 8, 2013-Sept. 7, 2014
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                        Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                        To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                                                                        Dark Spirits - US - October 2014

                                                                                                                                        US $3,995.00 (Excl.Tax)