The Millennial Mindset

The Millennial Mindset

Neil takes a look at the market approach taken by Scotch

Thoughts from... | 02 Sep 2016 | Issue 138 | By Neil Ridley

  • Share to:
Is Scotch trying too hard to be everyone's friend? I thinks it's time to be a little more direct. If you've ever worked in an office, you'll know that there's usually a pretty clear template regarding the social anthropology of nearly everyone who works there.

Amongst these, we have the 'The Quiet Types', who lunch at their desks, munching on homemade sandwiches whilst catching up on Game of Thrones on their iPad wearing a pair of headphones. They know what they like and just go with the flow. Next up, we have 'The Joker.' Feeling that comedy is their strong point, they seize every opportunity to crack a gag - usually at the expense of someone else in the office and largely to mask some deep-seated insecurity they harbour.

Then comes 'The Opinionators.' Like 'The Quiet Types', they know what they like, but aren't afraid to let their feelings out. You may not agree with them all, but you respect their honesty.

Finally, there's 'The Do Gooders' - you know… homemade cakes, rounds of tea, a constantly open Just Giving page for their 15th local 5k fun run that year. Nothing is too much trouble for 'The Do Gooders'. Their aim in life is to offend as few people as possible and in doing so, they live in hope that everyone will reciprocate their kindness with friendship. Problem is, most people simply smile sweetly at them, but really smirk at their efforts when their back is turned. Harsh, but true.

I recently watched an online promo video for a major single malt Scotch whisky that, by the end of it, had me thinking deeply about the above scenario. The video was largely a single tracking shot of a man's well-toned arm, festooned with 'rockstar' jewellery, holding a bottle of single malt which ended up on a garden table next to some barbecued meat. It was positioned to be the life and soul of the outdoor party; the drink that works in any situation.

In my opinion however. It felt a bit… desperate, a little too 'me too' and a lot like it was very keen to please just about anyone who might think about watching. It was in essence, a 'Do Gooder'.

Herein lies the problem faced by Scotch at the moment. The current buzz crackling around distillers is about capturing the attentions of the millennial consumer. They make up a huge proportion of drinkers - potential whisky drinkers, aged between the ages of 25 and 35. They are upwardly mobile; they like well crafted, honest products; storytelling; self discovery and above all else, authenticity. They can also detect a waft of marketing and whisky companies are only just discovering this.

The long and short of it is that those with a wishy-washy identity or overly scattershot marketing strategy end up becoming ignored by those drinkers who are looking for clear direction. You can't turn up one week loudly proclaiming how tweed suits, heritage and craft are the most important things in whisky, but then a week later turn up on a sun-kissed beach in a luminous mankini with an open bottle of single malt, shouting 'Party!'

Earlier this summer, a study by trade magazine The Grocer revealed that Jack Daniel's had officially become the most popular selling whiskey in the UK, with sales surging by 9.3 per cent last year. The reasons given were that younger consumers identified more closely with the 'positive cultural associations of America' rather than wanting to 'drink what their father's drink'.

Think about this for a second. It's undeniable that Jack Daniel's has been true to its marketing direction for decades. It very much wears its heart on its slightly tattered plaid sleeve. It speaks one clear language to the consumer. Scotch, on the other hand tries to be everything to everyone.

It's not all doom and gloom for Scotch, but clearly some of it needs a rethink. Those with a clear identity are soaring high, taking willing consumers with them.

To those who are trying to be popular-all-things-to-everyone, I say this. Just be yourself. Play to your strengths and ultimately be Scotch. You are unquestionably the most highly regarded spirit in the world. That actually stands for a lot.
Magazine Archive

From the archive

Select an issue

Subscribe Now

Subscriptions for
Whisky Magazine are available
in print, digital or as a
complete package

The Benefits

8 print editions a year

Enjoy the convenience of home delivery

Full access to every digital edition via desktop, iOS or Android device

Latest Issue Subscribe Now

The Whisky Encyclopedia - Coming Soon 2024

Discover the world of whisky with our comprehensive encyclopedia
Featuring companies, distilleries, brands, glossaries, and cocktails

Join The Community

Sign up to the Whisky Magazine
newsletter letter and get access to the latest
in all things whisky

paragraph publishing ltd.   Copyright © 2024 all rights reserved.   Website by Acora One