According to Four Pillars' Trade Manager for Asia Albane Corbi, who joined the company in June, the gin market performed strongly when the COVID-19 hit, but was already on the way up even before this.
“The gin category is booming in Asia, COVID or no COVID – we did see a surge across all brands last year as people were drinking more at home, but gin was already booming even before the pandemic hit,” she told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“This was the same in our export markets in Asia, where consumers are keen to experiment with new liquids and products and want better quality at the same time.”
At present, Four Pillars’ largest Asian markets are in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, but moving forward her target is to open up the markets in what the firm defines as North Asia, which are China, Japan and Taiwan where Four Pillars has present but not yet ‘activation’.
“The key trend that we are seeing in Asia is that consumers are looking for premium gins and that the demand for craft is really strong – people want a product with roots, with a story, and to know where and how it was made,” she said.
“Four Pillars ticks all of these boxes – our products are made from organic oranges, the origin is Australia for which the branding has a very positive connotation for Asian consumers, and we make all our gin in our distillery in the Yarra Valley – hence we really believe that the opportunities are huge in Asia and want to grow the North Asia market in addition to maintaining our stronghold ones.
“In addition, because our products are made from oranges, there is a very strong positive symbolization in Asia, especially in markets like China, where oranges are linked with wealth and prosperity, and we do hope this will give us an edge too.”
The hope here is to continue and even improve on Four Pillars’ strong export performance in 2020 – through the pandemic, the firm saw 178% growth in its overall export markets and 121% growth specifically in Asia.
In addition to the markets above, Corbi is also in charge of Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia as well as global travel retail, which is sales at airports. Four Pillars also has presence in New Zealand, the UAE, the UK, the US, Canada, Europe and Africa.
Four Pillars currently has three products in Asia – its Rare Dry Gin, a Bloody Shiraz Gin, and a Spiced Negroni Gin.
“The Rare Dry Gin is still our hero product, combining citrus with botanicals like lemon myrtle; the Spiced Negroni was crafted with spices and made specifically for a Negroni cocktail; whereas the Bloody Shiraz is the one that really fits the Asian palate as it’s made with Shiraz grapes and is somewhat sweeter,” said Corbi.
“These three were selected to bring to Asia as the idea is really to be relevant to Asian consumers and really engage with them, so the strategy now is to align the messaging more closely with local habits and culture in addition to being sure to meet the premium and craft trends.
“Four Pillars also won the International Wine and Spirit Competition IWSC International Gin Producer of the Year award two years in a row in 2019 and 2020, which we believe will also help to drive interest.”
Corbi also revealed that a special edition gin is on the way in conjunction with Christmas later this year, tweaked to fit the needs of consumers needing to stay at home, and a number of special editions will also be launched in 2022.