Diageo launches new products from rum and ale to spirit cider

GB Innovation Showcase, London, March 2015Photograph by Tim Bishop/DiageoPLC

Diageo has unveiled a range of new products, from a Pimm’s-infused cider and a new Smirnoff Ice variant to a Guinness golden ale, another flavour for Cîroc and a white rum for Captain Morgan.

Entering the British market between now and May, the innovations are being introduced to both the on- and off-trade, with a variety of products that have been a success overseas or are totally new.

Andrew Cowan, UK managing director of Diageo, said: “We own an amazing portfolio of brands of which we are the custodians. In 2015 we will write the next chapter, all the while ensuring that we do justice and stay true to their heritage.”

With its position as the UK’s number-one stout, Guinness is extending the brand beyond the black stuff with the launch of Guinness Golden Ale in April.

With a good balance of malt and hops, it is the third beer to come out of The Brewers Project, the experimental hub at the brand’s St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin. It is a premium ale brewed using Guinness yeast with hops, Irish barley and a specially selected amber malt, with ABV of 4.5%.

The ale comes in bottle only, tapping into the premium bottled ale segment that is growing ahead of total beer year on year and is forecast to double in size by 2020. It follows the launch of the Guinness West Indies and Guinness Dublin Porters in bottles in September last year.

After the success of Captain Morgan as a dark rum and, more recently, a spiced rum, Diageo is to introduce the first white rum for the brand in April.

It promises that the new product will help “reinvigorate” the white rum segment which has been in decline in volume and value terms year on year since before 2012.

Captain Morgan has been helping to grow the GB rum category, adding the most incremental volume of any rum brand year on year, according to Nielsen Brand Performance, and achieving double-digit volume growth in the on- and off-trade.

James Cragg, head of category development at Diageo GB, said: “White rum should be associated with high-tempo, party-time experiences but it has lost its way a bit at the moment.”

The launch of the rum will be supported with a seven-figure advertising and marketing campaign, including branded tankards for the on-trade. It is recommended for serving in a Mojito and with cola.

Diageo GB is entering the growing spirit cider, or “spider”, market with the launch of Pimm’s Cider Cup, a blend of apple cider with Pimm’s No 1 spirit plus the flavours of strawberry and cucumber – two popular ingredients in Pimm’s pitcher serves. It follows last month’s launch of the gin-based Pimm’s Strawberry with a Hint of Mint.

Launching in 500ml bottles in April, Pimm’s Cider Cup has ABV of 4% and is recommended for serving in a pint glass over ice. It will be promoted as part of a £1.1million advertising spend for the Pimm’s brand throughout the summer.

Diageo also plans to reinvigorate the ready-to-drink sector with Smirnoff Ice Double Black, a new variant for the long-established Smirnoff Ice.

The new product is a blend of vodka, soda and guarana flavour, with ABV of 4.7%, available in bottles and cans for the on- and off-trade.

Available in Britain from the start of April, it will be supported by a £1million advertising campaign, targeted at people aged 18 to 24.

Smirnoff Ice Double Black has seen “fantastic” success in Africa and Australia and will be included in Smirnoff’s global re-brand and packaging refresh, giving it a unifying and sleek new look.

With only trace amounts of caffeine, it is not an energy drink despite the popularity of guarana in products such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar.

Diageo GB is also introducing Cîroc Pineapple into the British market after its success in the US over the past six months where it has become the vodka brand’s most popular variant.

Joining the five other flavoured variants in the UK such as current best-seller Red Berry, the new flavour is made from French grapes and infused with freshly crushed pineapple, creating a juicy but smooth taste as well as a subtle hint of vanilla.

Nick Temperley, head of Diageo Reserve Brands GB, said the latest expression would bring more consumers to the brand rather than cannibalise existing sales.

In Northern Ireland, Diageo is rapidly rolling out another new beer from The Brewers Project, Hop House 13 Lager, which is a double-hopped lager available on draught.

It is brewed with Guinness yeast, Irish barley and Galaxy and Topaz hops from Australia and Mosaic hops from the US. It has a sweet fruity aroma, with hints of apricot and peach, and subtle malt notes breaking through. It is full-flavoured but crisp and hoppy without being bitter, with a refreshing clean finish.

Launched by Diageo Ireland, it is not currently due to be launched in Britain.

Diageo GB has also introduced two ready-to-drink frozen cocktail pouches into the off-trade: Gordon’s Frozen Cooler, made with gin, apple and elderflower, and Pimm’s Summer Crush, which both pour out with crushed ice after being kept in the freezer.

Louise Robinson, head of Diageo’s GB Innovation, said: “As the industry leader with a portfolio of household-name alcohol brands, we have a duty to continually re-invent, refresh and excite consumers.”

Andrew added: “We recognise that innovation needs to be at the heart of our commercial strategy, and at Diageo we want to grow our business by getting people to drink better, rather than more.

“Today nearly 13% of our business comes directly from innovation. My goal is that in the next five years innovation will account for twenty percent of our business.”

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