- An analyst has cited the success of Conor McGregor‘s whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve as a cause for Jameson’s declining growth.
- Business Insider has been told that Proper Twelve has bigger plans to continue disrupting the Irish whiskey market.
- Proper Twelve cofounder Ken Austin said the brand will be releasing more expressions, secret innovations, and will sponsor UFC events should McGregor return to the competition.
- He claims Proper Twelve will finish its first year of trading as the second best-selling Irish whiskey in the US, but McGregor wants to be number one.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
A drinks analyst has said Jameson’s growth has taken a hit because of the successful launch of Conor McGregor‘s Proper No. Twelve whiskey, and Business Insider has been told that the fighter plans to land further blows in the months and years ahead.
Jameson, the number one Irish whiskey in the world, sold 7.3 million cases globally in the 12 months to the end of June 2018, according to The Irish Times. This was its 29th consecutive year of growth and a 12% increase from the previous year.
However, Edward Mundy, an analyst with the beverage research company Jefferies, told the Irish Times in a separate article that Jameson is experiencing a “natural slowdown” since Proper Twelve bottles hit the shelves six months ago, proving extremely popular with customers.
Reviews from the drinks industry, including a first tasting by Business Insider, were initially mixed, but Proper Twelve is a staple of Amazon UK’s best-selling whiskies and is such a hit with US customers that the company sold six months worth of stock in its first 10 days of trading.
“The informal ambition is for [Jameson owner] Pernod Ricard in the US to grow ahead of the market: if Jameson is disrupted by Proper No. Twelve, this makes this ambition harder to achieve in the near term,” Mundy said.
The report also said if Jameson’s US growth continues to slow because potential customers might otherwise purchase Proper Twelve, “it could cause big problems” for Pernod Ricard.
But that is precisely what Proper Twelve is planning, as confirmed to Business Insider by Proper Twelve cofounder Ken Austin.
One of the ways Proper Twelve wants to further disrupt the Irish whiskey market will be through the release of many more expressions, something that will rival brands like Jameson which has many different types of whiskey to purchase.
Austin told Business Insider that Proper Twelve will “100%” be doing this as it is something the founder Conor McGregor is “asking about all the time.”
Austin told us: “We have product. We have product in barrels. We’re working on additional blends. And 100% there will be line extensions, that’s not even a question.”
Proper Twelve is already approaching 200,000 cases sold in approximately six months of trade, and claims to be on track to double that in its debut year. But Austin said that if Proper Twelve had the distribution that the brand’s nearest competitor has, it would be “a million case brand” in the US alone.
However, he said it’s promising that people aren’t just buying the whiskey once because they are fans of the mixed martial artist McGregor, a former two-weight champion in Cage Warriors and the UFC.
“People who are buying it are coming back time and time again… they love the product and not just buying one bottle and saying, ‘This is a Conor McGregor souvenir.'”
Austin said that McGregor’s whiskey is also looking at innovating, but they are tight-lipped on what those innovations are.
One look at the company’s website and Instagram page, which has 596,000 followers – 482,000 more than Jameson’s – suggests this could come in the form of Irish coffee, or as a canned cocktail product, as both feature prominently on Proper Twelve’s pages.
Proper Twelve would sponsor McGregor’s UFC comeback
Austin is excited at the prospect of the brand dominating real estate at UFC events, and will sponsor the canvas, the edges of the UFC Octagon, or the entrance gate should McGregor return to combat sport.
McGregor announced a shock resignation from mixed martial arts in March, just weeks after a statement from the UFC president Dana White who predicted the Irishman would fight twice in 2019. Last month, he appeared to tease a comeback to the sport when he told fans “see you in the Octagon.” His status as an active fighter in his sport’s premier cage-fighting firm the UFC, though, remains ambiguous.
“If Conor chooses to come out of ‘retirement,’ I hope he does, but that’s completely his call,” Austin said. “But ifConor is back in there, you will see Proper Twelve and you will also see Proper Twelve pop up in more ways in a very Conor-esque manner going forward.”
Conor McGregor has huge respect for the other brands, but it’s a dogfight and you take no prisoners.
Even if Proper Twelve had the distribution of its nearest competitor and became a million-case brand in the US, it would still lag behind Jameson – a 7.3 million case brand.
Austin acknowledges he and McGregor are “very far away” from the 250-year-old company.
“That’s a brand that’s been around for a very long time, with many types [of whiskey], but Conor wants to be number one,” Austin said, remembering a conversation he had with the fighter. “I said, ‘Conor, that’s a tall order.’ He said, ‘I don’t want to hear it. We will be the clear, clear number one.'”
To do that, they have to conquer the American market. It is key to Proper Twelve’s growth, or any new player in the drinks business, Austin said, as “most companies derive a huge proportion of their sales from America.”
Austin claims Proper Twelve will be the clear number two in the Irish whiskey category in the US within its first year.
“And that is… not easy to do,” he said. “We are putting a dent in the competition and will be the clear number two which nobody in their wildest dreams apart from Conor thought would happen.”
He added: “Conor has huge respect for the other brands, but it’s a dogfight and you take no prisoners. They might be nice people but we want to win just like they want to win. The difference is we’re going to lose sleep every night to make sure we do it. And when they’re sleeping, we’re awake working. That’s just the way it is.”
Proper Twelve is currently sold in four markets – the US, the UK, Ireland, and Australia – but “Conor wants to be everywhere tomorrow… Conor thinks we should be in 10 countries right now,” Austin said.
“We have a lot of very cool plans that we’ve brainstormed,” he said. “This is the first inning, the first quarter, the first round. He wants to be the number one, and we wouldn’t bet against him.”
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