Campari Group has made its largest financial commitment yet in the travel retail channel with the opening of a large boutique for the Appleton Estate rum brand at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Milan-based Campari did not divulge the value of the investment for the permanent shop-in shop but its location alone, set within the walk-though duty-free store operated by Dufry, is an indicator of cost.
The boutique, past which all passengers—4.4 million in 2022—have to walk to get to their gates, is near the entrance of the Dufry store. More importantly, it is ahead of a huge, circular multi-brand rum space further inside, giving Appleton a distinct sales advantage over home-grown Jamaican, and other, competitor rums in the store.
To slow down passengers and potentially convert them into buyers, there is a welcome bar with dedicated brand ambassadors for cocktail demos as well as guided tastings, and a large video wall. Nicely-spaced bottle displays at eye-level feature digital/QR-code activations allowing passengers to take a self-guided tour of the brand’s permanent portfolio of minimum-age-statement rums, and the estate’s history which dates back to 1749. They can also (virtually) meet Appleton Estate’s famous master blender, Joy Spence, the first woman to be appointed to this key role anywhere in the worldwide spirits industry.
“Biggest investment ever”
Marco Cavagnera, managing director of global strategic travel retail at Campari Group, commented: “This is the our biggest investment ever in the channel. It signals our strong belief in the rum category and that Appleton Estate can play a key role in our premiumization journey. The brand has all the credentials to do that as one of the oldest rums in the Caribbean.”
The omnichannel boutique makes a bigger statement of intent from Campari. As well as the acceleration of Appleton’s positioning in premium rum, it crystallizes the premiumization agenda of the wider group, in both travel retail and other channels.
Campari already has a strategy of brand elevation across categories, led by group brand premiumization director Jean Jacques Dubau since February 2022. The company has identified travel retail as one of the best ways to build omnichannel connections with consumers, and at a high level.
Dubau said: “Travel retail is somewhere we can showcase our products in a very special way. This is the start of a very important year.” He added: “We want to create that collectible aspect of a range. And we’re working on the experience as well.”
For example, the group’s French cognac liqueur, Grand Marnier, had a recent release called Grande Cuvée Quintessence in a bespoke Baccarat carafe with a price tag of $3,500 on Reserve Bar. Dubau said: “Now we are working on a special way to serve it to create a multi-sensorial experience. You can’t just offer a product like this on its own today.”
In the new airport boutique, a less extravagant manifestation of this move to upscale can be seen with Appleton Estate’s Ruby Anniversary Edition. It is a limited-time blend of five rare rums, each aged for a minimum of 35 years, with a dedicated allocation for the airport. The blend was chosen from the best stocks from Appleton’s distillery which is just 40km away in the lush Nassau Valley. Domestic US pricing is $700 for a 750ml bottle.
Campari, which owns global brands like Aperol and Wild Turkey, has built a strong portfolio through acquisition going back over a couple of decades now. However, two big buys and a key minority stake have come within the past year: Picon, the French bittersweet aperitif bought from Diageo; Kentucky’s Wilderness Trail Distillery; and a 15% stake in another Kentucky bourbon, Howler Head. Among them, Wilderness Train is also earmarked for premiumization.
Campari Group’s revenue was €2.7 billion ($2.9 billion) in FY2022 (up 16% year-on-year) while its global travel retail business soared by 81% on the back of a tourism recovery. The company now has over 50 premium and super-premium names it is stable of which the global priority brands are Aperol, Appleton Estate (and other Jamaican rums), Campari, Grand Marnier, SKYY