[Herald Interview] New Royal Salute makes grand debut to tap deeper into Korean whiskey market

Pernod Ricard’s Royal Salute 21-Year-Old Richard Quinn Edition 2 has recently made its world debut in South Korea, where young drinkers are increasingly turning their eyes to high-end whiskeys.

The second collaboration with UK fashion designer Richard Quinn "features a deeper and more flavorful blend, and the design is bolder and more colorful," said Pernod Ricard Korea CEO Frantz Hotton in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

“The reason why Korea was selected as the first country to launch is that Korea now has a strong culture that has a great influence around the world. Many global brands are already choosing Korea,” Hotton explained the background of dropping the world premiere in Korea.

Pernod Ricard Korea Marketing Director Miguel Pascual also noted that the company chose Korea because "Korean consumers are sensitive to trends and have a high interest and understanding of prestige whisky."

Both Hotton and Pascual focused on the growth potential of Korean whiskey market.

“The steady influx of young adults and women who recognize the true value of whisky, and the development of whisky culture accordingly, is why Korea is seen as a key market for Royal Salute," said Pascual.

According to Hotton, whiskey products were consumed dominantly by those people in their 40s and 50s before the COVID-19 pandemic. But, during the pandemic, customer demographics changed as younger adults and women started to consume more whiskey products than before. As they emerge as a new consumer group, the size of the whiskey market has expanded.

Korean people’s overall interest in whisky also increased, helping them know more about different whisky products and develop tastes for various types of whiskeys, according to Pascual.

“Korean consumers have a higher eye for whisky brands than any other consumers in the world, and consumers are becoming more and more curious, luxurious and sophisticated,” Pascual said.

Pascual said Korean whiskey consumers used to choose blended scotch in the past. But they have shifted toward more diverse options, including single-malt scotch, as well as whiskies with different origins, including Ireland and Japan, or different flavors.

In the Korean whiskey market, Royal Salute has continued to maintain its lead in the market and increased its presence further.

“Royal Salute’s position in the Korean market is solid. Sales of prestige-class international Scotch whisky over 21-year-old are increasing as more consumers seek high-aged and high-quality whisky,” Pascual said.

Pascual added, “The growth rate of the Royal Salute brand exceeds the overall prestige whisky market by 6 percent. This indicates that Royal Salute is one of the leading brands driving the growth of the prestige whisky market in Korea.”

Pascual expected sales of Royal Salute will continue to increase in the future. He added the company plans to “further strengthen communication with prestige whisky lovers.”

Hotton pledged that Royal Salute will continue its unique and innovative offerings to Korean customers, "grounded in its blending expertise in a landscape where consumer preferences are becoming more nuanced, and individuals seek differentiated products."

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