We love geeky facts at Gin Foundry. Few things are as satisfying as a perfectly executed pie chart, data graph or correctly formatted cells in an Excel sheet. Okay, that’s taking it too far, no one likes Excel! But we do have a lot of time for information presented in an accessible way – especially when it’s all about gin.
The trouble is, there aren’t any gin-infographics. Many reports claim to give amazing in-depth analysis about the state of gin but fail to dig past the big numbers. Worse still, seldom actually say what is the root of a country’s meteoric rise up the gin charts, a gin’s particular success or even why its sales are through the floor. It’s always top line and general, rather than up-close and granular. Many are frustratingly laid out and merely repeat facts that we already all know. Lastly and definitely not least in our list of pet-peeves, is that for the privilege of knowing all this “exclusive” content – it costs an arm and a leg.
In August we embarked on a journey to do some research of our own – not based on the facts of others but some original research into what people’s perception of gin are, what they liked and a few shopping habits. We didn’t set out to do it for commercial gain, nor did we do it to push an agenda or gain insider information in order to flog a particular product. We were curious about what people might say, what we might learn and thought that you, our super geeky and gin-crazed readers, would also like to know.
A few weeks later, we had compiled the biggest survey ever undertaken about gin and we thank each and everyone of you who anonymously took part. We accumulated all the results in one place to bring together a slightly wider outlook rather than making it geographically specific to either the UK or the US. We have included some comments when the results to the same question were vastly different. It’s not perfect by any means and our insights here ask as many questions as they answer. Whatever your personal conclusions are on each of the statistics and what insight they entail – hopefully it’ll ignite some interesting conversations and fun for all you to geek out over.
THE FIRST 10 QUESTIONS of our GINFOGRAPHIC in more detail… HERE WE GO!
Despite not being the market leader by volume, Fever-Tree have shown that careful positioning and selective partnering has earned them a healthy lead over their competitors in the race to win over the hearts of gin fans. Expect some fierce competition in the months ahead as others wake up to the potential of this rapidly growing category and newcomers attempt to establish themselves. The real question is, given Schweppes are losing ground on their competitors (both supermarkets and Fever-Tree) – why haven’t they diversified their offering for UK and US markets like they have in Spain? Another question that comes up frequently at Gin Foundry HQ is why has no-one truly cracked the Ready to Drink (cocktails in a can) market? Fentimen’s and Bloom Gin achieved the most premium packaging to date and experts are stating huge growth in that area. Will Fever-Tree also join this and showcase their portfolio with gin partners? Keep an eye out as it could well be a savvy business move.
Showing that moderation is still a key factor in most people’s enjoyment of gin – the limited amount of cocktails consumers are drinking goes to show just how hard the competition is for both bars and brands to attract attention. For us, it also highlights the need for the two tiered approach to bar menus. Given consumers are no longer buying multiple drinks in swathes of rounds – there is a higher importance than ever placed on signature serves that inspire and captivate the attention as well as delivering the classics that people naturally gravitate to when looking to play it safe. It’s no longer an either or situation and offering both is now the norm at many top end bars.
On the other hand, with the 2008 recession earmarked as one of the reasons consumers have been shifting towards drinking less but buying more premium spirits, is the trend set to reverse as UK and US economies fully recover? There’s more to it for sure but statistically, most consumers currently opt for a less is more approach.
This is the first clear sign of the gin renaissance coming to fruition. Gone are the days where consumers would stick to one bottle of gin and buy the same brand over and over. It’s now a more promiscuous category than ever before and becoming more akin to whisky, where drinkers have multiple bottles on the go at any given point. This is a clear shift from a decade ago where this would have been a one brand majority. This raises a new question however – what makes people pick multiple brands rather than one (is it price, flavour, availability?) and secondly, how does one gin brand build repeat purchase as consumers are constantly looking for a new experience? Both are tough ones to answer but a must-solve problem for any gin brand in 2015. There are also signs of a collectors mentality settling in with a higher percentage than expected amassing large hoards of gin.
“Cool” is a hard term to define. What does it really mean? Whatever your definition of it and how to achieve it in brand terms, being “cool” and owning the zeitgeist is a key factor in creating advocacy and peer-to-peer recommendations. In an over saturated market – this space will be one of the critical battlegrounds for those looking to establish themselves. With huge campaigns underway for the likes of Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire, it’s going to be an interesting one to monitor, as unlike redeemable vouchers, advocacy and coolness are a harder currency to track.
It is also interesting to see that the likes of Hendrick’s Gin can grow to become a major player yet still retain the outsider positioning and remain a “cool” brand in many people’s estimation. Will Sipsmith achieve the same transition now that they are poised to double in size once more?
The G&T rules as the king of the cocktails. Interestingly, this is the first question where the US really separates itself over the UK and Spain. US gin fans voted 28% for Martini and 42% in favour of G&T whereas the UK and Spain were almost at 80% favour the G&T and much more spread between other choices. There’s a clear divide between the nations and their drinking habits – something that is reflected in the flavour profile of American gins.
Also interesting is the rise of the Negroni. With Campari and Aperol having bumper years, the rise of the cocktail’s popularity is a clear sign that consumers are veering towards a more bitter flavour profile. It is yet to be seen if this trend is set to continue and if so, what other gin based cocktails are likely to appear on menus? Will the likes of the Gibson Martini make a comeback, or will fruity slings reappear as bartenders loosen up with their offerings… Who will have The Last Word? (see what we did there: PUNTASTIC!)
Asking how much tonic to add is a sure fired way to start an argument here at Gin Foundry. Everyone has their ideal amount but it seems that if in doubt, somewhere between 2/1 and 3/1 will be a winner for a majority of consumers however. Dilution is a key factor – scientifically, taste buds will respond best to something that’s served between 14 – 16% ABV so consider how much ice you’re adding and how strong the gin is to achieve the perfect balance. From a practical service oriented perspective – given the wide range of answers and given most now serve tonic out of bottles, it’s surprising to see how few bars pour a small amount then offer the bottle alongside the glass for customers to adjust to taste.
On a separate note – kudos to the 50 or so of you in the minority here opting for 1 to 1 ratio. You might be a minority but you made a few people here at Gin Foundry HQ very happy (and equally – others enraged as to why you would choose that!).
This is an interesting shift towards higher expectations as to the level of service in all bars. Five years ago – the “always” would not have gathered so many responses. Now that the drinks industry has become even more customer experience driven means that being asked about your personal preference is proving to be the norm. No one takes it as far as the Spanish however, who ask on a majority of occasions which gin, which tonic and which garnish, with an overwhelming majority answering “Always” in our survey (68%)!
The other conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the easiest thing for bars to better their reputation is to pay more attention to details and put customer preferences first. Ironically, it’s also one of the cheapest things to implement as a bit of training goes a long way in achieving the required results.
The interesting part of the response isn’t necessarily that most people have already made their mind up before going to the bar – but that almost no-one makes a decision based on flavours when in a bar environment. Yes, it would seem that brand recall is everything and this brings us back to the importance of being considered “cool”, but it’s surprising based on this survey that 90% of people either know what they want to drink or will pick based off what they see. Time to spruce those backbars up and start name-checking on bar menus then… but remember, curation is key. Too much choice and it’s counter productive.
For those looking to try gins in a different way and based on flavour, there are a few tips that are easy to implement. For a G&T, try visualising which garnish you like and go from there. It’s not easy to visualise the flavour of a gin, but it is for a simple garnish. You can then ask the bartenders to work backwards to find a gin which suits that best.
There are more statistics on the Ginfographic which you can download in full high-resolution HERE
Copyright © Gin Foundry