G. Garvin Brown IV, chairman of Brown-Forman

G. Garvin Brown IV, chairman of Brown-Forman, shares his views on the evolution of the spirits sector – and what it can teach the wine industry – as he becomes 2013 president of the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

G. Garvin Brown IV, chairman of Brown-Forman

G. Garvin Brown IV, chairman of Brown-Forman

Which aspects of the work carried out by the IWSC inspired you to lend your support?

In today’s economy, quality has never been a more critical topic for our industry. The IWSC’s focus on quality – its recognition and celebration of quality brands – is the perfect antidote for so much that is gripping today’s consumer. The IWSC also offers a great breadth of recognition for both wines and spirits; breadth by category and geography, compelling characteristics in our globalising industry.

What do you hope to bring to the role of IWSC President 2013?

If I can help promote the IWSC and enable more brands to get the recognition they deserve, I think that would be a great outcome.

Does the spirit sector have anything to teach the wine trade – and vice versa?

Great spirit brands have been able to carve out uniquely strong places in the hearts of their consumers. From this, they’ve created loyalty and lifelong relationships that are the envy of brand builders worldwide. They’ve also proven themselves to be very resilient in the face of difficult times or threats from other categories. The recent flurry of innovation in the spirits industry, for example, has shown how the brands can carry consumers to new occasions and new categories.

Only resilient and well-built brands are capable of making these advancements. The sparkling wine category has certainly done well at achieving this sort of brand loyalty, and I think we all would hope for the same success in the wine industry. If you really think in arms-length terms, the wine industry has performed a Herculean task over the last decades, lifting entire generations of consumers into more sophisticated consumption habits.

The Anglo-American world’s love of wine is totally unrecognisable today, compared to 50, or even 30, years ago. The wine industry’s passion for its art (and science) is the source of this success. Watching this phenomenon roll out across emerging markets is an inspiration for anyone in our industry.

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