Fever Tree’s success in Premium Tonic was built on the back of the Gin Boom
Fever Tree all but invented Premium Tonic. In doing so the brand’s success has been built on the back of the Gin Boom, at least in part. In taking aim at their industrial counterparts, craft gin upstarts necessarily emphasised product attributes, focussing on liquid quality and taste profile. Fever Tree’s founders spotted this early. They played a similar hand in the complementary category, producing a higher quality, natural tonic – initially targeting the On-Trade (pubs, bars, clubs etc.). As the product took off, default-choice brands like Schweppes were slowly re-positioned downwards in the minds of consumers. As Fever Tree keeps telling us, over and over, in print…
‘If ¾ of your drink is the mixer, mix with the best.’
Fever Tree has been able to extend its range and raise the profile of its mixers
UK consumers have embraced variety and taste discovery within Gin. As the category has proliferated in recent years, so has the Fever Tree range: Pretty much any style or taste profile within Gin can now be paired to a suitable tonic. By expanding its range, Fever Tree has been hugely successful in raising the visibility, stature and competence of its mixers in the minds of the G&T consumer.
Turning convenience G&T wisdom on its head
When it comes to convenience RTD (ready-to-drink) G&T, the rule has always been that the spirit drives consumers’ choices. Look in any Tesco Supermarket: You’ll find plenty of craft brands offering Gin in a tin, almost always with unbranded tonic cast in the role of bit part player. There’s always the odd exception that proves the rule: One example is Fentimans, who tied up with Bloom Gin to produce a co-branded RTD.
In launching its RTD Gin & Tonic range Fever Tree is, necessarily, turning conventional wisdom on its head: Fever Tree champions the role of the mixer. In the realm of convenience-drinking at least, the brand is proposing to consumers that tonic, its tonic, should take centre-stage over the Gin. If any brand can pull this off it’s going to be Fever Tree.
Fever Tree’s new RTD G&T range
Fever Tree’s new range comprises Premium Indian Gin & Tonic, Refreshingly Light Gin & Tonic, and Elderflower Gin & Tonic. Deliberately eschewing the usual slim can treatment, the RTD products come in Fever Tree’s now familiar glass bottles – 27.5cl / 6.3% ABV / GPB2.75. [In the world of supermarket G&T this is quite premium pricing: Fever Tree’s RTD is priced similarly to that of brands like Sipsmith]. In developing the new range Fever Tree has collaborated with Charles Maxwell, of London’s Thames Distillers fame. But of course, instead of matching a tonic to a Gin, Fever Tree has had the gins distilled to match their tonics.
Equity & architecture considerations
RTD Gin & Tonic is an obvious commercial play for Fever Tree. It’s relevant to consumers and not a big a stretch for the brand, from a Core Equity perspective. However, you can posit the view that a sub-brand architecture could have been deployed, to ensure against consumer confusion. The Fever Tree range has proliferated over the last few years. Anecdotally (not least from our own shopping experiences) there are incidences of consumers buying one style instead of another, by accident. Adding another 3 SKUs in the same colour codes might cause similar incidences of mistaken identity. As the Fever Tree brand continually extends into related but tangibally different spaces the time will come when consumers will need more help to best understand and navigate the range.
Will Fever Tree venture further into the realm of spirits?
As Fever Tree extends competence in mixers – beyond Gin – it must be tempting to think about making corresponding plays in RTD convenience. Mixers targeting Tequila and Dark Spirits could spawn a convenience empire! But if things go too far there might be a price to pay in terms of the brand’s current standing as a premium-priced mixer for premium spirits. There’s probably a balance to be struck somewhere. Beyond RTD it can only be a case of who dares to dream. Would Fever Tree venture into White Spirits for example? By producing an alcoholic product for the first time the brand is at least paving the way.