The new launch was responsible for double digit growth for Crown Royal and contributed to 12% growth for Diageo’s North American whiskeys in FY2015, outpacing category growth.
Broad consumer base
Crown Royal Apple combines the brand’s Canadian whiskey with Regal Gala apple flavours – creating ‘the perfect balance of robust whiskey notes and crisp apple.’ Launched in November last year, Diageo said this apple extension would attract fun-loving whiskey drinkers with evolving tastes.
“It's been an extraordinary year one, way exceeding our expectations,” said Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes in last week’s earnings call for the year ending June 30, 2015. “We’ve shipped over 1m cases. The depletions have been nearly 900,000 cases.
“The consumer data actually is very encouraging because the consumption is cutting across gender, age and ethnicity and geography. So it's very broad-based, and it's clearly drawing new consumers into the Crown Royal franchise.
“The consumption occasions are also quite varied. It's consumed in shots, it's consumed in cocktails, it's consumed long with mixers and so it's fundamentally bringing new consumers into Crown Royal and into whiskey, and we have hit a sweet spot here that has really broadened the franchise for the brand.”
Crown Royal celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, and counts the US, Canada, France, Japan and Korea among its top markets. While it showed 1% growth in Diageo’s FY 2014 results, it posted double digit growth this year.
Menezes now expects the brand to grow further over the next financial year.
“What Apple has done on base Crown Royal is it's stabilized it,” he said. “So actually, our relative trend on base Crown Royal has improved and so we see this as being helpful to the overall trademark and clearly, it's something we're analyzing and watching and supporting very closely. Our intention very much is to see the momentum continue to build as we go into FY16.”
Crown Royal and Bulleit
North American whiskey represents 7% of Diageo’s net sales. Over the last financial year it grew 12%, beating general category growth.
The category’s fortunes were driven not only by Crown Royal Apple, but also by continued growth of Bulleit bourbon. This brand was responsible for a third of the category’s growth, with net sales up 35%.