Senior Brand Director
Tequila has graduated from outside shot and Margarita glasses to being consumed on the rocks, in flights and even sipped and savored. The latest introductions tend to be above-premium, making the category even more relevant to today’s consumption trends. The Mexican spirit was the fastest growing non-whiskey in 2006, according to Beverage Information Group research. Sauza Tequila is a leading brand; in fact, from 2003 – 2007, it claimed the third spot among the top 10 leading brands of tequila in the U.S., according to the Handbook Advance 2008. In 2007, Sauza notched 1.44 million 9 liter cases – a 5.6 percent gain (projected) over the previous year. Supplied by Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Sauza Tequila also ranked as the 29th leading brand among all distilled spirits for both 2006 and 2007.
Hornitos Tequila, a member of the Sauza Tequila line, emerged in the fall with new market positioning, packaging and a $15 million marketing campaign. In addition, the brand, originally available as Hornitos Reposado – launched two new variants -- Hornitos Plata and Hornitos Anejo. Supporting the new portfolio, the Hornitos campaign, “The Fine Line of Tequila,” delivers the message that these tequilas provide the expected tequila “edge” while an uncharacteristic smoothness. Sauza introduced its “sip, shoot, and savor” strategy, highlighting the diversity of the Hornitos trio and their consumption occasions. Andrew Floor, Senior Brand Director, is a vibrant, very visible force on the Sauza Tequila brand team. Here, he educates us on how the Hornitos brand evolved, how its new marketing campaign is working and the latest promotions being planned for Cinco de Mayo.
The Beverage Information Group (BIG): Sauza’s Hornitos Tequila was relaunched last year with a new look and ad campaign. But before we get to that, tell us a bit about the brand, its history and how it has evolved over the years. Just wondering, how was the name Hornitos chosen and what does it mean?
Andrew Floor: When Don Francisco Javier Sauza inherited La Perserverencia, the home of the Sauza family dynasty, he set out to create a tequila of unique character, a way to enhance what had already become the world’s premier tequila portfolio. He held a deep rooted love for the pure agave flavor that had traditionally been the domain of blanco tequila’s but he also loved the mellow complexity that oak injected into his beloved tequila. The result? Hornitos was born – the purest articulation of agave character possible in a wood treated tequila, uniquely rested in 10,000 gallon vats rather than the 55 liter barrels to minimize contact with the wood.
The brand was officially launched in 1950 and quickly established itself as a true icon of the tequila category, becoming known as Nuestro tequila in Mexico and quickly becoming America’s favorite 100% agave Reposado tequila, a position it still holds to this day! And the name? Hornitos means ‘little oven’ in Spanish, a nod to the small ovens Don Francisco used whilst realizing his dream.
BIG: In addition to the established Hornitos Reposado, two variants were added – Hornitos Plata and Hornitos Anejo. Why did the brand decide to launch these as well? Is this now the norm in the tequila market – for a brand to offer all three -- reposado, plata and anejo?
Floor: The tequila category has been experiencing a revolution over recent years as more and more consumers explore new and exciting ways to enjoy their favorite spirit. Hornitos, America’s favorite 100% Agave Reposado has some of the most loyal consumers in the world and as such we felt an obligation to ensure those loyalists had a Hornitos variant for any and every tequila occasion! Whether it’s sipping a Paloma made with the spicy agave of Hornitos Plata, or sharing a smooth yet complex shot of Hornitos Reposado or savoring the rich, oak of the Hornitos Anejo in a snifter there is a Hornitos variant for anyone who loves the true taste of agave. Is this the norm? For some brands line extensions are a cynical grab for shelf space but for a brand with the production credentials, the heritage and indeed the following that Hornitos has, it was a natural way for an icon brand to keep pace with an evolving consumer.
BIG: The new “sip, shoot and savor” seems like a very clever strategy to increase tequila consumption. How is it working? Also, please indicate how the new advertising campaign “The Fine Line of Tequila” came about – who created it and why that name was chosen.
Floor: The “Sip, Shoot, Savor” strategy was born out of an evolving category and has become a clear and simple way to educate a broader consumer audience on the versatility of tequila. It also provides an easy to understand “reason for being” for the three variants, de-mystifying what is traditionally a misunderstood and seemingly complex category. And the results? Hornitos was the fastest growing premium tequila in 2007 up 24% versus the previous year and that momentum has carried into the new year up 16% through the traditionally quieter Q108. With “tequila season” just around the corner Hornitos is set for another amazing year.
“The Fine Line of Tequila”, the first dedicated Hornitos campaign in over 4 years captures the idea of bringing 2 seemingly conflicting elements together to deliver the perfect combination, a concept born from the fact that Hornitos is the perfect combination of smooth agave taste and exhilarating tequila edge. The idea was developed by Publicis Dallas and launched in Q4 2007 with a record brand spend, brought to life via a variety of print and out-of-home executions, a major on line presence, unique word-of-mouth initiatives and an extensive entertainment marketing program including a celebrity-studded “Fine Line” launch party in Los Angeles hosted by Ashlee Simpson. Other celebrities in attendance included Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton, Vanessa Marcil and Jeremy Piven. We also recently helped Eva Longoria and Todd English celebrate the highly anticipated opening of their Latin-infused restaurant, Beso.
BIG: The idea of a sipping tequila seems rather novel, as the spirit has traditionally been thought of as the main ingredient in Margaritas and other cocktails. How did “sipping tequila” establish itself in the market? Also, is the trend we’re seeing in spirits (especially vodka) towards greater consumption in the super-premium category and less in the value area, also happening in tequila; if so, why?
Floor: Mexico is the home of tequila so it should come as no surprise to learn that it is also the source of tequila consumption trends! Mexicans have been mixing their tequila (in Paloma’s for example) for years and have been sipping it (neat or with sangrita) even longer and as the US consumer continues to evolve they are exploring similar ways to enjoy their favorite brands. It’s not just consumption formats that are changing the face of the category in this country however, consumers are also starting to understand and appreciate the amazing world of 100% Agave tequilas like Hornitos, dispelling the myth that tequila has to be harsh and challenging.
That consumer driven realization is accelerating the premiumization of tequila ahead of any other spirit category in the US with double digit growth in the Premium and Super Premium segments. But growth isn’t limited to these higher marques, Sauza’s Gold and Blanco brands are also showing double digit growth in the standard segment as consumers search for better tequila experiences across a variety of occasions.
BIG: What on- and off-premise promotions are being planned for Hornitos for Cinco de Mayo?
Floor: Hornitos is taking it’s “perfect combination” message to the market via a comprehensive series of “green room” experiences in key cities around the country in the weeks leading up to and (funnily enough) including Cinco de Mayo. Our promotional teams will lead consumers through a fun and engaging exercise aimed at proving that with Hornitos, you can indeed enjoy all the exhilaration of a tequila experience without all the baggage that people expect – the perfect combination of smooth taste and tequila edge. Hornitos House productions will also be hosting a star studded Cinco de May event in LA, the hottest ticket in town, as our Devils and Angels bring to life the Fine Line concept and allow the lucky few to truly experience the Hornitos perfect combination.
BIG: Can you offer a snapshot of the Hornitos Tequila drinker: by age group, top geographic areas, does it skew male or female, etc.? Also, how has today’s tequila drinker evolved, say compared to five to 10 years ago?
Floor: The Hornitos consumer is fairly evenly split between males and females roughly 26 – 32 years old, independent thinkers who reject the default choices of the masses preferring to actively search out ways to improve their consumption experiences by making informed decisions. They’re proud of their emerging maturity (career vs job, etc.) and enjoy the thrill of a tequila release but don’t enjoy the consequences of a bad one! Key markets include California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona and Washington but are also appearing in emerging markets like New York, Atlanta and Florida.
BIG: What do you enjoy most about you job, and what do you find challenging? Also, just wondering, what’s your favorite way to drink tequila?
Floor: What do I love most about my job? We’re going to need a whole new page for this one! I love everything about my job! I love Tequila – all the quality options of scotch whiskies, all the production controls of champagne, all the romantic history of cognac, all the versatility of rum or vodka and underpinning all that tequila has attitude, a real personality that drags you in and never lets you go! I love Casa Sauza, a true pillar of the tequila industry since 1873 and I love our brands - Hornitos, Tres Generaciones (3G’s), 100 Anos and Sauza Gold and Blanco - a portfolio of brands steeped in history (the first to apply the name ‘tequila’, the first to export tequila to the world) with a pioneering spirit and production credentials second to none! I love the fact that we are a leading brand playing a leading role in the accelerating evolution of an exciting, sexy category that’s ready to explode in the world’s largest tequila market. Need I say more?
And my favorite way to drink tequila? There’s something incredibly refreshing about a Hornitos Paloma (Hornitos Plata, lots of ice topped with Squirt, at left) on a hot sunny day but there’s nothing like a Hornitos Reposado on ice in a rocks glass, anytime.