Budget spirits' taste test triumph no worry for 'inferior' premium drinks, PRs say

Drinks PRs say brand value and brand loyalty are key to premium brands seeing off the apparent challenge of own brand spirits and wines after several generic brands came out on top in a blind taste test by alcohol experts for the consumer group Which? this week.

Taste test: 'Eccentric' own brand drinks incite lust but premium brands get love, says one PR
Taste test: 'Eccentric' own brand drinks incite lust but premium brands get love, says one PR

The test, which gained coverage across the national papers yesterday, ranked gins made by Morrisons, Lidl and Waitrose above other premium brands, while an Asda white wine came top in its category with two premium brands bottom.

Rupert Posonby, director of R&R PR, said it was a well-worn pattern that deliberately unusual "competition wines" gained accolades, while "less showy" varieties actually sell more. Of gin, he said: "Creating a gin with eccentric character gives the chance of a medal and the publicity it can bring. Budget gins can have character and eccentricity and shriek 'lust me'. Big brands are more about longer-term love."

Liam Keogh, founding director founder of Palm PR, said Which?'s test was part of a broader rise in interest in own-label products that PRs should respond to by building brand loyalty, and that businesses should see this as "an opportunity to keep their brand focused on maintaining their competitive edge". 

"Although own-brand products always have strong distribution channels, and can occasionally have the competitive edge in pricing, PR professionals should focus on the areas where these product are weaker, such as their lack of an engaging back story behind the business or compelling provenance," he said.

Alicia Mellish, MD of Stir PR, which handles PR for Jack Daniel's among other spirit brands, said that consumers will buy premium brand drink "because it says something about them - it's all about 'Brand Me' - and makes them feel a certain way".

She added: "I think blind tastings are a good way to judge the comparative quality of products within a category; however, based on the understanding that consumers select one brand over another on so much more than taste, there will always be room in the market for premium products with rich brand equity."

Edwina Eddleston, director at LDR Creative, agreed, saying that taste was "arguably as subjective as art or fashion". She continued: "Consumers want to believe in brands and share what they know and learn; they actively search out spirits that have provenance and authenticity. Our job is to tell that genuine story to those that want to hear about the craft involved in creating a fantastic liquid."

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