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Demand for premium spirits gains momentum

The global growth of premium-and-above* spirits consumption outpaced that of non-premium spirits in 2011, thereby maintaining the strong volume growth seen in 2010 and surging ahead in terms of value.

The value of the premium spirits market grew by 21.0% in 2011 versus 2010, while the value of non-premium grew by 11.9%. In volume terms the premium spirits market increased by 7.7%, while non-premium spirits were up 6.0%.

Following the onset of the global recession consumers in many markets became more price sensitive and in many cases traded down to cheaper brands or categories or reduced the frequency of their premium purchases. In 2010, non-premium spirits outgrew premium in volume terms as general consumption recovered, but now that the global economy is once again in growth premiumisation is returning – 7.8m more cases of premium-and-above spirits were consumed in 2011 than in 2010.

In many markets tax increases are reducing the price gap between standard and premium brands, encouraging up-trading as well as squeezing out the low-priced segments. The premiumisation trend can also be attributed to consumers’ desire to drink less but of better quality, while also thinking about the health implications of excessive drinking and also following the fashion trends of premium brands.

Global GDP grew 3.9% in 2011, according to the IMF, with Asia demonstrating the fastest growth (+7.8%). Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing region for premium spirits consumption in percentage terms, as well as the second-largest in terms of volume growth – it increased by 1.9m cases, with the strongest growth coming from the baijiu category in China.

Premium spirits increased by 4.2m cases in the Americas, the largest growth market. Key growth came from the vodka market in the US, where US whiskey, tequila and gin also saw strong increases.

In most spirits categories, premium segments grew faster than their non-premium counterparts. In categories such as gin, tequila, flavoured spirits and cane, the standard and low-priced segments declined, while the premium-and-above segments grew. Many of these categories are being revitalised by new premium brands entering the market.



%Change Volume 2009-2010

%Change Volume 2010-2011

%Change Value 2009-2010

%Change Value 2010-2011













Source: The IWSR





*Premium-and-above refers to premium, super-premium, ultra-premium, prestige and Cognac qualities, extra and XO.
As a general guideline premium spirits are classed as spirits with a retail price of US$20 or above. This can vary greatly between markets.

1 July 2012 - Felicity Murray