Drinking, dining & disruption
In days gone by, the Food & Drink sector was fairly static. The shelves were filled with heritage brands, many going back decades, and things changed very little in terms of products, methods of manufacture and so on. Not anymore. We have grown increasingly used to seeing a constant stream of new brands, new technologies and new kinds of food and drink – all of which make this a really exciting sector for consumers, companies and IP attorneys alike.
But these aren’t the only changes. It’s no longer enough to have a product which looks and tastes good. These days, social responsibility and sustainability are key to the success of a brand – and authenticity is an absolute must.
So how do disrupters in the Food & Drink sector see things themselves and what do they think the future holds? We decided to speak to some of the sector’s most innovative and passionate founders to find out.
Our fourth revolutionary
In the old days, there were really only a couple of leading gin brands you could name and a gin & tonic was the preserve of the middle-aged. These days, gin is absolutely booming and craft gin is the hip drink of choice whatever your age. But how hard is it to stand out in such a crowded market, what will we see next in the drinks sector - and what's it making the switch from promoting other people’s brands to running your own F&D business? We caught up with Simon Marjoram, gin aficionado, expert marketeer and founder of both Bamboo Marketing Communications and craft gin brand Hampton Court Gin, to find out.
Q. I love that having been marketing other people’s brands for so many years, you’ve now launched your own. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt from your time in marketing and how do you think that experience has helped your own brand?
That’s an easy question to answer. Ever since I set up my own marketing agency in 2009, I realised that differentiated campaign results don’t come by walking the path of least resistance. It’s incredibly easy to spend client budgets on off-the-shelf channels, and not surprisingly you get off-the-shelf results. My team and I have always looked to leverage the power of the brands we work for beyond the scale of the budgets we’ve been given to work with. To do that you need to think beyond the more obvious solutions – even if it’s a much longer route (which it invariably is!). Having that approach ingrained in us has had a massive impact for a start-up brand like Hampton Court Gin. We are able to behave like a big boy but without the big budgets, and our first year results bear testament to that.
Q. The spirits market (and especially gin) is seriously crowded these days. What made you decide to go into such a competitive market - and how do you make your brand stand out from the crowd?
You are right – it’s an incredibly crowded market. But there is still plenty of space for really exceptional brands with exceptional liquids. Mistakenly, people assume “craft” automatically infers quality and that simply isn’t true. As with our marketing approach, we also take the long route when it comes to production. Months of recipe development, tasting, selecting the right still (ours is 1,500 litres when most craft stills are 150 or 300 litres) means that it’s possible to stand out from the crowd thanks to the quality of our product. We’ve only been live for just over 14 months and already our first gin “The Six Wives” has won Gold Medal at the Global Gin Masters 2022, competing against 900 other gins, while its stablemate Lord Of Misrule won a much-coveted Master’s Medal - above a Gold - where all the judges must be unanimous in awarding over 95 points.
Q. You talk about “authenticity”. What role does that play in both your branding and manufacturing?
It is simply vital. Having worked on countless drinks brands where there have been so many gaps in their DNA, it has been a joy building my own from the ground up – a reason for why the liquid has been made the way it has. I did a huge amount of research long before we started mixing botanicals – especially around what exciting ingredients were being grown, imported and served at Tudor feasts. We’ve worked hard with those traditions to create a truly lovely gin which also provides an engaging and entertaining narrative to put a smile on people’s faces even before they have tasted the gin. Nothing we do is a happy coincidence; the brand’s integrity is paramount. I wish I had the word count to tell you the narrative for our soon-to-be-launched spiced rum, “Father of the Fleet” (Henry VIII was The Father of the Royal Navy).
Q. What’s next for Hampton Court Gin?
I don’t know where to start …. We have just had HMRC pre-approval for EIS so if anyone would like to invest, please do get in touch! We have been contacted by 2 premium multiple grocers. Our on-trade base is growing daily, as is direct-to-consumer. Meanwhile, Q4 2022 will see the launch of 20cl bottles, 3 x 5cl gift packs, and as mentioned earlier, a dulcet, warm, spiced rum called “Father of the Fleet” (macerated with sweet potato, quince, pomegranate, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and allspice). And then in Q1 2023, we will be launching 2 delicious ready-to-drink cans. So many exciting things going on!
Q. How do you see the drinks industry evolving over the next 5 years and what trends do you think we’ll see?
Rum has been widely tipped to enjoy the same meteoric growth that gin saw in 2016, but now it’s finally happening. In July it was announced that sales of rum surpassed £1 billion in the UK, which accounts for a bigger market share than whiskey. That’s why I wanted to be ahead of the game and have a fantastic rum that appeals both to existing drinkers enjoying greater choice, but more importantly also to new, younger drinkers entering the category for the first time. And then of course all eyes are on the growth of RTD’s which is the fastest-growing category in drinks. The initial choice was simply about mass-produced commodity brands, but now it’s about better quality, lower cost and lower ABV.
So there you have it: a stable of delicious and genuine craft gins, steeped in both history and botanicals, and with a rather tasty rum in the wings to keep the company perfectly aligned with evolving consumer tastes and trends. Just remember, Simon, trade mark and patent attorneys are known for their excellent palates and constructive suggestions, should you ever need help trialling your next spirit!
If you would like to carry on the discussion, please contact Rowena Tolley.