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White Claw makes a grab for travel retail

Mark Anthony Brands has revealed the next stage in its plans for the White Claw brand following the launch of its vodka range.

Speaking exclusively to the drinks business, Mark Anthony Brands’ market director for spirits Ronan O’Neill revealed how the company has teamed up with The B&S Group for global travel retail and the actor JB Smooth for its new marketing campaign.

O’Neill told db: “We have a US$25 million marketing campaign which is about to go live and we have the American actor JB Smooth who is heading it up because it is a smooth vodka.”

Taking advantage of the global travel retail stage, Dutch company B&S Group, which has a portfolio of duty free airport shops, trading under the names B&S Shop Fly, Capi and Crew Shop and B&S Shop Fly stores, will become part of Mark Anthony’s GTR plans.

Speaking to db about the tie-up, O’Neill said: “Now we are expanding and starting to develop a premium spirits portfolio, we are getting into global travel retail. “We have just started a partnership with B&S. These guys are a massive Dutch travel retail business. They don’t just work in alcohol but across all categories and they are going to work exclusively with our brands in GTR.”

O’Neill also revealed its next stage plans for its newly-introduced White Claw Vodka and explained the thinking behind the launch.

“As a company, we are best-known for White Claw in the US. White Claw hard seltzer sales have been phenomenal, absolutely huge and White Claw is particularly strong in Australia” and hinted “I have had some really good meetings with the airport buyers there”.
“As you know, White Claw seltzer is an absolute phenomenon in the US, Canada, Australia and in the UK it is getting big as well. Travel retail is the next market for it.”

O’Neill explained: “We have a pure premium vodka, a black cherry, a mango and a pineapple” and revealed: “White Claw Seltzer is now 10% of the US beer market. Not seltzer, White Claw is 10% of the US beer market. It’s absolutely huge and has completely disrupted that category.”

According to O’Neill, Mark Anthony Brands launched the vodka for a few reasons – to take advantage and ownership of the seltzer being served with added vodka along with going head-to-head with brands like Tito’s, Smirnoff and Absolut that dominated the category.

He said: “The reason we came up with the vodka is because we thought that the vodka category was really old and stagnant in the US, because you’ve got Tito’s which is huge but came out about 20-25 years ago and then Smirnoff and Absolut, but these are brands that White Claw drinkers know their parents drink. So we knew we had this really engaged audience with White Claw and huge brand awareness.”

O’Neill insisted: “There is more brand penetration for White Claw in the US than lots of other vodka brands put together. In the US, the White Claw consumer spikes their seltzer with vodka anyway so it just seemed obvious” and revealed “we are bringing out a White Claw and vodka as an RTD as well which will also roll out everywhere soon too” and hinted that the vodk and soda variant will be 4.5% ABV and available in four flavours.

In terms of stealing market share for its vodka range, Mark Anthony Brands has said that it has its eyes on Tito’s and admitted that was largely to do with making its premium vodkas “accessible” for next generation consumers. O’Neill admitted: “We are going after Tito’s in the US” and so “we are pricing each bottle of our vodka at just US$25”.

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