Five -minute focus Mark Collins, Amarula brand manager, First Drinks Brands

28 August, 2008

UK investment

We're very focused on investing in the category and in the UK in particular. Lots of products have come into the category over the past few years, but they've found the going tough and have fallen out of it. The UK market is still a dynamic one and if you want to be an innovative spirit, you can't afford not to be in the UK.

Taking on Baileys

We've not got the budget like Baileys so it's hard to compete. Full credit to Diageo - they've got a megabrand. It's not just a cream liqueur megabrand, it's also a spirits megabrand and it transcends categories. Amarula is a highly differentiated, exotic offering from South Africa. The opportunity is there for other suppliers to grow the pile by having lots of differentiated offerings in the cream liqueur category.

Feeling the pinch

Over a considerable number of years there's been a natural tendency for people to trade up. The trend has been for people to consume less of a better quality drink

and that's not going to change, even with the credit crunch. When times are tough, brands count - they are signposts

for the category.

Future marketing plans

First Drinks is using an experiential type of activity to bring the world of Amarula to life for people. Expect to see more of that type of activity over the next year, along with more sampling.

Top tips for retailers

It's all about showing the versatility of the product . Promote cream liqueurs as a summertime drink from the fridge,

over ice


from the freezer

as a frozen version.

Praise for spirits specialists

Lots of them have lifted their game - there are some great independents out there. It's quite a challenge to just focus on spirits from a retailing point of view, given the limitation it puts on turnover and the seasonality of the category. Sainsbury's stands out for me as a great retailer because of its range, merchandising and the way they engage customers.

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