Why a focus on artisan brands helped gin sales top £1bn

Sales of gin are expected to top £1bn for the first time this year and industry experts say this is down to some clever marketing by brands that are increasingly appealing to millennials by positioning the drink as “artisanal” and sophisticated, convincing consumers to trade up.

More young people than ever are drinking gin. According to the latest figures from market research firm Mintel while most white spirit drinkers (56%) think gin is an older person’s drink, it is actually younger consumers who are the most likely to buy it.

More than two in five (42%) of Brits aged 18-34 say they have drunk gin the past 12 months, according to the research. Among the over 45s that figure is just 27%.

It is these younger drinks that will boost sales of gin to £1.04bn this year, with Brits expected to drink 29 million litres. That is up from £829m in 2012, with Mintel forecasting it will continuing rising and exceed £1.3bn by 2020.

While the fact gin has been undergoing a renaissance is well known, it is only in the past couple of years that sales have really “taken off”, according to Mintel’s senior drinks analyst Chris Wisson. The secret to its success, he adds, lies in its ability to shake off its old fashioned image and replicate the success independent beer brewers have had in the craft beer scene.

“Gin producers are leveraging that artisanal positioning – handmade processes, high quality ingredients,” he told Marketing Week.

“The branding side is very good and there are now a lot of interesting, craft brands within gin that resonate with under 35s.”

Chris Wisson, senior drinks analyst, Mintel

There is also an element of trading up. According to the research 32% of those that drink white spirits, including gin, are prepared to pay more for craft white spirits. That rises to 45% among men aged 25-44.

Wisson explained: “There’s a better range of brands in the on trade and a lot more pubs and bars are recognising that by serving spirits the right way they can improve sales. Premium mixers, such as Fever Tree, are thriving. People are looking for better quality in their drinks and more premium experiences.”

How brands are taking advantage

Tanqueray London Gin is one of the brands taking advantage of the opportunity. According to separate figures form Nielsen, it saw sales increase by 33% between May and July and 26% between July and September, higher growth than the industry average.

Nick Temperley, head of Diageo Reserve Brands in Great Britain, puts that down to a focus on innovation. He points to the launch of a range of new flavours, including the newest – Tanqueray Bloomsbery gin which offers more powerful juniper flavours than a traditional gin.

“It responds to the growing consumer demand for new and exciting brands by offering a unique gin that is rich in taste and heritage. Tanqueray Bloomsbury celebrates the time the Tanqueray distillery was located in Bloomsbury, London and it’s a limited edition which gives it added appeal,” he told Marketing Week.


Temperley believes engaging with consumers about its brands is also key. He highlights Tanqueray’s participation in London Cocktail Week, where both consumers and the drinks trade can find out more about its brands and how best to serve and drink them.

Marketing has also been key in sparking brand engagement. He pointed to the brand’s ‘Tonight we Tanqueray’ campaign as a way of sparking conversation with consumers and encouraging them to try the brand.

“We encourage both bartenders and consumers to revolutionise the way they serve and drink gin. Take the classic G&T. Something beautiful and unexpected can be created using flavour, garnishes, tonics or even serving vessels.

“And the innovative consumer activity we invest in strikes a chord with younger consumers looking for brands that parallel their own values.”