Twelve months down the line and the take-home rum category is on the brink of a transformation. Ringing the changes is a major national advertising campaign scheduled for the autumn, which will see Caribbean rum producers benefiting from a European Union grant of E70 million.
As part of an eight-year programme to boost rum sales, indigenous brands will be marked with an Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque, distilleries will be modernised and smaller businesses will be given much-needed cash to develop their products in the UK. With producers including Cockspur, Mount Gay and Appleton Estate set to benefit, the off-trade will finally see a host of innovative marketing campaigns and brand extensions that should generate some long-overdue excitement in the category.
Market leader Bacardi has recorded slight losses, but considering its dominance in the market, a small slip does very little to close the gap between it and closest rival Captain Morgan. Marketing director Liam Newton is optimistic that Bacardi's current £15 million heavyweight ad campaign will draw new consumers into the whole category, by encouraging them to mix rum with fresh fruit juices, ginger ale or lime cordial rather than just cola. "Bacardi's move towards versatility this year is a major strategic focus for the brand," he says.
Real progress has come from Morgan's Spiced, with Diageo's Out of the Ordinary entertainment events boosting the brand's profile in its Scottish heartland. As its new-look packaging hits retailers' shelves this month, this year should see the Caribbean brand climbing higher up the charts. "The growth of the brand and of golden rum as a whole is an illustration of current trends which see consumers looking for a more differentiated spirits offering," says brand manager Amy Richardson.
It's a less promising story for Lamb's Navy Rum, which has stayed static in a growing market. Perhaps its recent move from Pernod Ricard to Halewood will give the brand the attention it needs to make an impression on the market.
Mortons' decline is another sign of consumers turning away from dark rum in favour of more versatile golden rums, and with strong marketing for golden rum brands and their association with trendy cocktails, dark rum looks likely to fall further in the year ahead.
Off-trade market share Year to Aug 11 2007
Top five rum brands
1 Bacardi -3%
2 Captain Morgan +5%
Morgan's Spiced +18%
4 Lamb's Navy Rum 0%
5 Mortons OVD -13%
Off-trade rum value
11/8/2007: £184 million
15/07/2006: £183 million
Change from Aug 2006: +1%