Mexico is the second largest consumer of tequila and mezcal, after the USA, with a total volume consumption of 109.3 million liters in 2017. While tequila sales in Mexico are more relevant than mezcal, several spirits companies are now focusing on developing or acquiring their own mezcal brand. Mezcal has been the up and coming spirit of choice as tequila fanatics have been searching for the newest curiosity.
Total Volume Sales of Tequila (and Mezcal) in 2017 (‘ooo liters)
This growth in curiosity can be attributed to the strength of the grassroots branding of mezcal production.
Many iterations of mezcal are exclusive small batches that have intrigued Mexican consumers interested in the distilling process and the ways in which producers interact with their communities. The move into this category of major manufacturers including Bacardi, Pernod Ricard and most recently Diageo showcases an effort to commercialize this grassroots movement, offering accessible mezcal brands to the public. Diageo’s move to onboard Pierde Almas to their portfolio could mean a successful launch, particularly in the convenience outlets where alcoholic drinks are most frequently bought, thanks to the company´s extensive distribution network.
Players expanding into different segments
One interesting thing to note is that each major company buying stakes in major mezcal players have acquired brands with different positions. Illegal Mezcal, Bacardi’s partner, is known in Mexico primarily for their popular politically-fueled advertising campaigns. Del Maguey, owned by Pernod Ricard, represents the premium segment of the category, offering single 100% agave expressions instead of a multi-aged spirit. Pierde Almas resonates with indigenous values, using traditional methods with a sustainable, chemical-free distilling process.
As mezcal begins to flourish, both in Mexico and abroad, it suffices to say that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and all three companies should be successful in appealing to a variety of consumers. This territory as a commercial opportunity is still a very new premise; sustained success will reach the brands with an adequate distribution network and a marketing strategy that appreciates the indigenous roots this spirit can claim.
Mezcal in North America and beyond
Regarding international popularity, the release of George Clooney’s Casamigos mezcal variety has contributed to the commercial presence of this Mexican spirit, so we should see continued exploration of the sub-category by North American consumers. The growing participation of the major spirits manufacturers indicates strong sales prospects linked to the commercialization of this Mexican export in international markets in not only the US, but also from the emergent Canadian market and a growing number of countries in Europe. This spirit’s compelling cultural association will continue to be the driver for its growing international fame.