Aperol Spritz may be a hit with the Insta-crowd, but it’s still far from a household name in Australia.
An IRI Shopper Panel Survey has revealed the drink has low awareness with consumers – only 11% of respondents had seen Aperol Spritz in the Australian market.
What exactly is an Aperol Spritz? It’s a mix of the Italian bitter aperitif Aperol, prosecco and soda, served with a slice of orange.
Aperol marked its centenary last year – it was launched in 1919 at the Padua International Fair by the Barbieri brothers, Luigi and Silvio. They took inspiration from the French term for apéritif, ‘Apéro‘ for their creation. Aperitifs are drinks served before meals.
Aperol has been a mainstay in Italy ever since, but the rest of the world only caught on about five years ago. It’s now Campari’s best-selling product, representing roughly one fifth of its annual sales.
Until recently it was also growing consistently in double-digits in Australia – sales were up 22.8% in 2019 – but it lost momentum during lockdowns, due to its prevalence in the on-premise.
While sales are up 21% for Campari Australia in 2020, the brands leading growth are Wild Turkey RTDs, Wild Turkey bourbon, American Honey, Campari, Cinzano Vermouth, The GlenGrant and Espolòn.
Globally, the apertivo has also taken a hit, with an increase in sales of just 2.6% in the first nine months of 2020. However, they picked up in the third quarter to 26.2%, driven by core markets such as Italy, favoured by positive weather conditions during July and August, as well as Germany, United Kingdom and Switzerland, boosted by a staycation effect as people holidayed in their own countries.
The company also noted in its Q3 results: “Sustained consumption continued in off-premise skewed Northern European markets, Australia and Canada.”
“Growth was mainly driven by recovery across the high margin and on-premise skewed aperitifs,” it said. So Campari, Aperol, Crodino and Campari Soda led the advance.”
Chief Executive Officer Bob Kunze-Concewitz said Campari feels “very good about the prospects of the Aperol brand”.
“Bear in mind that the penetration or the consumption per capita outside of Italy is very, very low,” he told analysts this week. “And even in Italy where we’re at 30 centimeters per person, it’s only 1% of total beer. So the opportunity is there for us.”
Celebrities mix it up
Celebrities are helping raise Aperol’s profile. Reese Witherspoon recently featured the liqueur on her Instagram account, mixing a cocktail containing Aperol in her kitchen.
The actress has 24.5million followers and the post received more than 400,000 likes. She mixed about a half glass of apple cider, then a shot of Aperol, and finished the drink with a splash of club soda.
“My Fizzy Apple Cider cocktail recipe!” she said. “Perfect for fall and pairs well with just about any dance move.”
While Kunze-Concewitz said celebrities – and consumers – should feel free to add ingredients to Aperol Spritz, the company remains “highly, highly focused” on “edutainment initiatives on the perfect serve of the Aperol Spritz”.
An Aperol Spritz “perfect serve” is made from three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one part soda water.
He said consumers in Western countries were getting into the habit of making cocktails themselves and offerings them to their guests.
“I think that is here to stay for the years to come,” he noted. “That’s a real positive of the pandemic and we’re even starting to see some of that in Italy.”
Aperol Spritz RTD growth
Campari has also been exploring RTD possibilities for Aperol Spritz, although Kunze-Concewitz said the company wasn’t a “great fan of line extensions” other than in the segment’s prime markets of Australia and Mexico.
“With regard to Aperol, we’ve only extended the Aperol ready to enjoy to very few markets,” he said. “Most of the business is in Italy, which is the most mature market for the brand.”
However, he said Aperol RTD sales were “significant”.
“So, given the overall situation, we’ll consider to potentially test and extend in those markets where Aperol is the most mature.”