Fireball Whiskey is taking over America — and it’s eating into the market share of much older brands.
Fireball owner Sazarac bought Southern Comfort and Tuaca for $544 million.
The brand controlled 5.2% of the liquor market in 2014, down from 6.3% in 2012, reports Jennifer Kaplan at Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, Fireball is the sixth-most popular liquor brand in America by retail sales, putting it ahead of classic brands like Grey Goose and Jim Beam, according to CNN Money. That doesn’t inclide sales in bars.
Retail sales of Fireball were $1.9 million in 2011 and $130 million on 2014.
Fireball, which is described as tasting like cinnamon gum, has become a go-to shot for “young hedonists,”Devin Leonard at Bloomberg Businessweek wrote in 2014.
The whisky beverage is even close to surpassing Jägermeister, another liqueur commonly consumed as a shot.
Leonard highlighted a few ways that Fireball’s marketing campaign helped it skyrocket to success.
1. Targeting college towns. Marketers first dominated the Nashville, Tennessee bar scene, then moved on to Austin, Texas. The company would offer free shots of Fireball to the entire bar. The bar would then take the shot as a group, which left an impression on customers. Eventually, people in those markets began ordering the shots on their own.
2. Enlisting celebrities. Fireball targeted celebrities with large social media followings. For instance, Josh Harris, who stars in Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” posted about the beverage on his Facebook page.
3. Drinking contests. The brand ambassadors encouraged bars to have Fireball drinking contests and post pictures of the results to Twitter and Facebook. “Our customers got a big kick out of that,” a former executive said.
As a result of Fireball’s aggressive marketing, it has become the go-to shot.
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