After the USA, the Filipino brand is in the process of establishing itself in Europe, where until now it has remained relatively unknown. For the French market, with its distributor Whiskies du Monde, Tanduay is going to focus on the premium segment, with a new specific range, ‘Tesoro Range’, available early this year.
Tanduay may not be a household name in Europe, but it is far from unknown in the world of rum. With 27.5 million 9-litre cases sold, it has climbed the ladder to become the leader of the best-selling rums by volume since 2017, relegating Bacardi (21.1 million) and Captain Morgan (12.9 million) far behind*.
Omnipresent in every shop in the Philippines, this national flagship does not rely solely on satisfying its domestic market of more than 117 million inhabitants. It launched its global conquest just ten years ago. And France will be its next port of call.
From the Philippines to Europe, via the USA
Founded in 1854, Tanduay’s roots lie in the sugar industry, like most producers of the time. The distillery went on to forge a solid reputation for using local sugar cane to produce its rums. Priced at just €3 or €4 on the local market, these rums fit in perfectly with the Filipino culture of quick, instant consumption.
In 2013, Lucio Tan III, the third-generation heir to one of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates, launched Tanduay’s first export to the United States. This marked the launch of the ‘Asian Range’, made up of three main vintages: Silver, Gold and Double Rum, all of which have been widely acclaimed.
In perfect synergy with the country’s sporting culture, it has sponsored several NBA teams. This strategic move has strengthened the brand’s reputation and appeal in the American market. Europe represents the latest stage in Tanduay’s expansion, with the introduction of its new ‘Asian Range’. With an “aggressive” product price positioning. A bottle of 5 Year Old rum costs around €20!
A strategy based on Asian identity
Tanduay entered the European market in 2020 via the Benelux countries. At first, the brand’s typically Filipino image met with some resistance. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, a number of Asian products have become more popular.
With this in mind, Tanduay adapted its marketing strategies for its international approach, moving from a focus on tropical beaches and sugar cane per se to a focus on the brand’s Asian identity: language, people, history, all linked to Asian DNA.
Conceptually, the essence of Asian life inspires every image that Tanduay wishes to evoke through its rum: photography that takes us on a journey to Asia, with landscapes of rice paddies, bicycles, Chinese lanterns, a dynamic representation of the bustling streets of Asia.
On a practical level, Tanduay is stepping up its investment in the bars and restaurants sector, focusing on independent establishments. The brand is reinventing classic cocktails by adding an Asian twist, such as a Daiquiri with Calamansi, a lemon from the Philippines, or adding lemongrass to cocktails to evoke a typically Asian feel.
“It’s a strategy that’s paying off! Between 2021 and 2022, we’ve managed to establish ourselves in 12 new markets!” boasts Donald MacLellan, International Sales and Marketing Director at Tanduay.
Tanduay’s international expansion now covers most of Northern and Central Europe, with a presence in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary and Austria, as well as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, China, the United Arab Emirates, Guam and Canada. This Filipino rum is out to conquer the world.
Winning over the French palate with top-of-the-range products
In France, rum outstrips whisky in popularity, with a figure of 82%, according to the Sowine barometer. La Maison du Whisky confirms this preference, revealing that 54% of consumers aged between 30 and 60 prefer rum to vodka and other spirits.
Donald points out, “The acquisition of Don Papa Rum by Diageo and the takeover of Diplomatico distribution by Brown-Forman demonstrate a growing interest in the premium rum market.
The trend in France is towards premium experiences. This is precisely the niche that Tanduay is targeting. Despite its worldwide success, Tanduay rum remains surprisingly discreet in France, a market that seems ready. And why is that?
As in every country it has conquered, Tanduay has carefully chosen its allies who share a long-term vision and have no rum in their portfolio, in order to make its products widely accessible. Bordeaux-based distributor Le Whisky du Monde, which specialises in Asian spirits, set itself apart from the big names over a year ago.
According to them, “To impress the French, you first have to offer a premium range”. The rule is clear: the French consume less alcohol, but better quality, and are prepared to pay more for it.
This is why the new Tesoro Range, aimed exclusively at the French market, has been created and will be officially launched by Le Whisky du Monde in January. The range will be presented in wooden boxes, comprising 5 or 6 vintages from 10 years old, then 20 years old, including a Sauternes and an Oloroso Cask Finish, among others.