We have discussed many times how luxury is more and more about experiences and how it is important for consumer to be associated to a certain lifestyle. This time we wanted to immerse ourselves into the spirits sector.
After the opening of the very first The Macallan Room in Hong Kong, Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview Jaime Martin, Managing Director of Hong Kong & Macau for Edrington, an international spirits business headquartered in Scotland. We asked Jaime about Edrington business, spirits sector in general, and also about the expansion plan in Asia their most famous brand The Macallan.
RiA: Can you tell us more about Edrington?
Jaime: Edrington is an international spirits business headquartered in Scotland. We make some of the world’s best-loved Scotch Whiskies. The Macallan is our central focus, supported by Highland Park and The Glenrothes in the fast-growing Single Malt category and Naked in the Blended Malt category.
We have strategic partnerships with Tequila Partida and Wyoming Whiskey in the dynamic Tequila and American Whiskey categories. Our portfolio is completed by The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky and Brugal premium rum in the Dominican Republic.
RiA: It seems that the spirits sector has not been impacted by the COVID-19 and actually some reports show that sales performance has increased y-o-y, can you confirm?
Jaime: I would say the sector has been impacted by COVID-19, but indeed the performance has been disparate across the channels we operate in.
Our travel retail and on-trade businesses have been the most impacted due to the global travel restrictions and lockdowns in place, whilst our e-commerce, direct to consumer, and off-trade businesses have proved to be more resilient, reflecting continued desirability for our trusted brands and premium quality.
RiA: Among your brands, there is The Macallan, which is the world’s most exceptional single malt Scotch. What are the latest developments of the brand in Asia?
Jaime: We have just unveiled two new whiskies: Double Cask 15 years old and Double Cask 18 years old, which complete our Double Cask range first launched in 2016 with Double Cask 12 years old. The Double Cask range uses American and European oak Sherry-seasoned casks to mature the whiskies and reflect The Macallan’s relentless commitment to outstanding quality.
In Asia, we pre-launched the new whiskies in Hong Kong followed by key markets Taiwan, Singapore, and China. In Hong Kong specifically, we will be showcasing the Double Cask range in our newly opened The Macallan Room at K11 Musea, including a pop-up experience running for two weeks in September.
RiA: Can you walk us through the experiential concept of The Macallan Room and the process of choosing HK for this project?
Jaime: Hong Kong is one of the foremost cities in Asia, and arguably the world, for luxury shoppers to consume and collect premium spirits.
The Hong Kong consumer is highly involved and discerning, we wanted to offer a space which enables us to engage with them in a more immersive way.
The opening of The Macallan Room is an opportunity for our consumers and those new to the brand to discover The Macallan’s exceptional single malts through the Six Pillars, which are the foundation stones of our spirit, its heritage, and its uncompromising commitment to quality.
RiA: What is the key feature of The Macallan appealing to Asia consumers?
Jaime: Asia is a great market for us as the consumer is highly involved in premium spirits and often demands the best.
The strengths of The Macallan fit well with those demands, thanks to our relentless commitment to quality of our whisky. The Macallan Six Pillars are at the foundation of this commitment to excellence.
A particular area to highlight from the Six Pillars is our wood policy which is renowned in the whisky industry, and is a main contributor to our liquids robust flavour and natural color profile.
RiA: The Macallan being quite a premium product, how do you work to educate consumers towards appreciation of the product and understanding of the different nuances?
Jaime: There is a lot of hard work and years of development to get to where we are. It is indeed quite important for us to communicate to our consumers exactly what makes The Macallan the ultimate single malt.
To do this, we leverage strong global communication campaigns which focus on our commitment to excellence. These are locally amplified by our brand ambassadors and relationship managers directly with our customers and consumers.
The Macallan Room is a great example of how we continue to invest to further build this relationship directly with our consumer.
RiA: In terms of expansion, at which stage are we in Asia?
Jaime: The Macallan is on a continued quest for excellence and innovation as evidenced by the launch of Double Cask 15 and 18 year old.
Asia is a top priority market for us and already a major source of growth. Still, we see there is much more potential to reach more and more consumers in this part of the world whom are eager to discover our premium spirits, we will continue to invest behind this growth whilst maintaining our commitment to quality and premiumisation of the channels we operate in.
RiA: Who’s your customer profile?
Jaime: We have a very diverse group of customers owing to the quality and complexity of spirits, which allows us to serve a wide range of target groups, from whisky beginners eager to discover what makes our single malt so exceptional, to whisky collectors looking for our higher end prestige ranges and fine rare collections.
Ria: As we know that The Macallan is continuously working on new projects, what’s next in 2020?
Jaime: 2020 proved to be challenging but rewarding to The Macallan; we proved ourselves to be able to weather through this difficult time; here in Hong Kong we performed strongly with number that exceeded our expectation thanks to a strong retail and direct to consumer business.
We are now preparing for strong programme line-up including The Macallan Room, The Macallan Double Cask 15 and 18 year old introduction, and a few more exciting launches coming before Christmas – stay tuned.
We will keep monitoring The Macallan’s development and Edrington with it. Another interview with the brand ambassador of The Macallan in Hong Kong is coming soon.