Sales of rum last year continued soaring skyward, posting increases of 6.6% to about 20.8 million 9-liter cases nationally, according to Adams Beverage Group Research. In the control states, the rum category increased at an even faster pace, up 7.2% in 2004. It now ranks as the second largest category of spirits in the U. S., with flavored rums accounting for roughly a third of the category’s sales.
John Gomez, group marketing director for Bacardi, thinks that much of rum’s success can be attributed to its unrivaled mixability. “Existing consumers are responding to the proposition of mixed drinks made with rum, as evidenced by the growing popularity of the Mojito. Rum gives a cocktail personality. Seventy-one million people turned or will turn the legal drinking age from 1997 and 2015. That expanding population will only bolster rum’s overall franchise.”
Stuart Kirby, of Captain Morgan and Diageo, added that rum’s broad market appeal explains the category’s dynamic growth. “The primary market segments for rum are men and women between the ages of 21-29. Its rich flavors, mixability and affordability make the whole category attractive to consumers.”
According to E. Malcolm B. Gosling, the seventh generation of the family that first produced Gosling rums, “Historically, rum producers did not market the spirit to its full potential. But in this age of consolidation, the larger companies are now successfully managing rum, and through their marketing efforts, consumers and critics are recognizing the many attributes of rum. Frankly, it’s no longer seen only as the product that makes drinks with cute little umbrellas.”
Gosling added that “a lot of entry-level consumers are being attracted to the category through the flavored rums. This actually translates into consumers who develop a long-term loyalty for the category, and as they grow older, they develop more interest in the aged rums.”
Jeffery Zarnow, ceo of Starr African Rum, agreed, pointing out, “A factor is certainly the growing influx of superpremium brands. Up until recently, there were not that many high-end rums in the marketplace. It’s one of the only luxury items that many people can easily afford.”
“Look for the superpremium segment of the rum category to grow rapidly now,” agreed Lori Tiezen, senior vice president at Mo