Branding for Ireland’s Whiskey Renaissance

posted on 17th Apr 2018

The whiskey industry is booming and Ireland is having its moment. What many are deeming a “Whiskey Renaissance,” Irish whiskey sales have increased by over 300% in the last 10 years – now accounting for more than one third of all Irish beverage exports (IWA, 2017).  

Now, the Irish whiskey category is the fastest growing premium spirit in the world. Currently sold in 135 countries around the world, Irish whiskey exports increased by 13.3% to €646 million in the first three quarters of 2017 (ABFI, 2017). Driven by the Irish Whiskey Association’s ‘Vision for Whiskey’ strategy, exports are expected to double to 144 million bottles by 2020 and 288 million by 2030.

What does this mean for Ireland?

Just like Guinness and Saint Patrick’s Day, Ireland has a new opportunity for tourism to hang its hat on. At present over 650,000 visitors pass through Irish whiskey centres to better understand the whiskey and the stories behind the emerging brands. The newly launched Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy aims to more than treble the annual visitor numbers to 1.9 million by 2025.

Because of the overwhelming popularity, new brands are popping up left and right. There are more than 150 different Irish brands, 18 whiskey distilleries and plans for 16 more in the pipeline. But the market is far from saturation. Simply compare the value of our annual exports with that of Scottish Whisky – in 2016 it hit €42 billion. Irish whiskey currently accounts for just 2% of the global whiskey market. There’s a massive opportunity for Ireland to become a top global player in the whiskey category.

What’s branding got to do with it?

The consumer demand exists and there’s no slowing down for the Irish whiskey industry. As more brands pop up, branding will become more important for distillers in securing a position amongst top global players. A good brand creates trust, loyalty and deep-rooted emotional connections that ensure consumers become customers for life. Brands will need to tell a unique story and create an experience around the whiskey for the consumer.

When Jameson saw volume and value decline a few years ago, they knew they couldn’t rely only on an internationally recognised name. They created an entire experience from bartender to consumer, tying the brand to food, music and film. They wanted the consumer to “feel” The Jameson Experience. This re-awakening of Jameson had remarkable success with brand advocacy up 54% and volume and value sales in double-digit growth (MII, 2017).

We’re excited to see a category synonymous with Irish culture being globally recognised. We’ve worked with Slane Irish Whiskey in developing a global online web presence and building a whiskey brand and distillery experience that has its own unique character and distinct personality. Check it out here.

Katelynn Spaid, Social Media Coordinator 
Katelynn Spaid moved to Dublin from Austin, Texas in March 2017 to work as the Social Media Coordinator for Neworld. She received her degree from Texas Tech University in Public Relations, and has extensive experience in social media management, content marketing and sales. At Neworld, she has developed an appreciation for branding and its relationship with design effectiveness. She admires the creativity and enthusiasm of her colleagues and is happy to be a part of the show by promoting and celebrating their work.