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How rum could be the flavour of the festive season

To support rum sales this Christmas, Becky Davies at Ten Locks says brands and distributors need ready-made solutions to help hospitality and retailers engage consumers

Becky Davies Ten Locks

Rums with purpose 

Rum is one segment of the drinks category that is really thriving; sales are on the rise and so is the interest of savvy sippers who are expanding their education and knowledge of the sugarcane spirit. The category is becoming increasingly diverse, with a pipeline of innovation driving consumers to experiment, attracted by the different flavour profiles and expressions. 

In many ways, the category is leading the way in terms of purpose, meaning and innovation in drinks. Authentic, conscious brands can make their mark here – they have natural story-telling  capabilities, heart-warming backstories,  and  personalities with a real connection to the brand and the consumer,  and they  excel when it comes to quality.  

There is also diversity within the category, with female distillers and rum makers bringing new ideas and quality rums to the sector. Brands such as Diablesse are really making strides in the category for women and also bringing new flavour combinations and rum expressions to market. 

The spice is right 

Consumers are particularly attracted to spiced rum, because of its versatility and it being an accessible part of the category. The sector has seen an incredible amount of growth and this will continue. There’s a real opportunity for retailers and the hospitality sector to capitalise here as they can bring consumers into the category and trade them up in the longer term with more premium offerings.  

Authenticity also plays a role here too – many spiced rum brands bring unique stories, flavours and reasons to buy in. For example, Nusa Caña brings a taste of the Spice Islands of Indonesia, strong sustainability credentials, as well as eye-catching label designs. Combining “nusa”, an island in Indonesia, and “caña”, sugar or sugarcane in Spanish, its founders wanted locals to have the sense of ownership and to feel proud of their heritage, and build the profile of Indonesia as a destination for rum.

Shop local for faraway flavours  

Lesser-known rum brands are emerging both from the UK and from abroad, which appeal to consumers on all fronts, meeting the  growing demand for something out of the ordinary and hitting the  right  notes  in terms of taste, quality and price.  

Drinkers are on their own voyage of  experimentation and  discovery with  rums, with  spiced,  golden and dark  rums bringing far-away  flavours and a sense of adventure to the UK market. Drinks from far away that offer new flavour experiences also appeal to those seeking escapism  after over a year of travel restrictions and uncertainty.  

Brand-backed experiences can be used a tool to drive footfall and The Salford Rum Company has done just that this year. It created the first Rum Map of Manchester via a social media and real-life campaign asking followers and fans to name their favourite places to drink rum and cocktails around the city. The activity created a sense of community among the trade in Manchester and helped to drive footfall into venues.

Sustainable sipping  

Drinkers who care about their drinks and what they spend their money on  are much more ethically minded and want brands that work towards positive change, be it supporting sustainable producers, profiling the overlooked or marginalised, or championing brands that place provenance, heritage or family at the heart of what they do.  

This was one area that was building pre-lockdown and has now been accelerated, we believe, because of the pandemic and a desire to come back better and give something back to communities.   

Stocking brands that deliver in these areas, and offer a feel-good factor,  will help pub operators and retailers offer the right range to drive festive sales.  

3 December 2021