Nielsen Spirits Analysis

By Vivien Azer March 16, 2015
The Cowen Insight
Distilled spirits growth decelerated in the most recent 4-week period ended 2/28/15MoM, though the 4-week growth of +6.1% still stands ahead of the 5.3% growth over the last 12 weeks, and the 4.6% growth seen over the last 52. Bourbon remained a standout, as were Irish and Canadian whiskey, and tequila. Vodka, gin and rum sales continued to improve, though underperformed the category.

Brown Spirits Continue to Outperform Total distilled spirits dollar sales and volume growth remained robust in the 4-week period. Dollar sales grew 6.1%, while volumes were up 2.7%, with price/mix adding 3.3 pts to revenue growth. Bourbon outperformed distilled spirits, posting impressive 13.5% growth (ahead of the 11.6% seen over the last 12 weeks, and the 10.6% growth seen over the last 52-weeks). Price/mix added a notable 5.2 pts to bourbon category revenue growth, ahead of the 4.7 pt contribution seen over the last 12 weeks.

Outperformance was also evident in other brown spirits categories, including Irish whiskey (+21.2%) and Canadian whiskey (+9.3%), while tequila's turnaround also continued (+10.7% in the 4-week period, vs. +7.7% in the 12-weeks, and +5.3% in the 52-weeks). Vodka dollar sales underperformed the total distilled spirits category (+4.6%), though continued to improve. Price/mix for vodka remains muted (+1.2 pt contribution), which we believe is helping to drive these better category trends. Meanwhile, gin (+3.1%) and rum (+0.5%) also continue to show signs of improvement, albeit still lagging the category overall.