The Rise of Japanese Whisky

Posted by
Kevin Byrne on 7/18/18 3:00 AM

Whiskey is the undisputed king of spirits on social media in the United States. It accounts for more than a third of the category’s social conversations and its dominance continues to grow. In June, whiskey conversations increased 7.6% year over year, a growth rate more than double that of the spirits category as a whole.

According to social behavior measured by the Social Standards Consumer Analytics platform, American Whiskey leads the pack in overall popularity, with Scotch Whisky in second. Lately, however, there has been a different type of whiskey experiencing tremendous growth.


Consumer Insights into Japanese Whisky Growth

The up-and-comer is Japanese Whisky. In June, total year-over-year volume of U.S. social conversations were up 47.1% while sales rose 84.4%, and its share of U.S. whiskey conversations increased by 36.3%. These numbers represent growth well above American, Scotch, Irish, and Canadian Whiskies combined! It also exceeds volume growth of Scotch Whisky, its closest competitor, by over 300 percent.

Rise in U.S. Popularity

Japanese Whiskey Share of Conversations 2017-2018Japanese Whisky Share of U.S. Whiskey Conversations


Driving Factors for Growth

The question is then, what has driven this growth? Consumer insights indicate the role of cocktails and experimental mixology as an inspiration for consumers.

Cocktails and Japanese Whisky

Social data suggests a contributing factor of Japanese Whisky's dominating growth results from its increased popularity as a component within cocktails. From June 2017 to June 2018, the number of times that Japanese Whisky and cocktails were mentioned in the same social media post rose by 26.8%. Comparatively, the growth in same-post mentions of cocktails and the whiskey category as a whole was well less than half this rate.

Japanese Whiskey Share of Cocktail Conversations 2017-2018

“Mixology” as an interest has also increased alongside Japanese Whisky. Highballs, Old Fashioneds and Whiskey Sours have emerged as popular cocktails, while egg white and maraschino cherries have become popular ingredients.

Consumption Destinations

So, where is consumption occurring? Consumers mention bars more frequently than any other location in relation with Japanese Whisky. More specifically, the cocktail bar has become an increasingly popular destination, as mentions in posts with Japanese Whisky increased 63.6% in June year over year. Home bars and “homemade” as a quality of drink are also being mentioned more often in the same post, indicating the trend has extended to the aspiring, home mixologist.


Japanese Whisky's Future Outlook

Through our Consumer Analytics platform, all signs seem to suggest the growth of Japanese Whisky is more than just a passing trend. On a global scale, the number of consumers who mentioned it in social conversations in both May and in June increased by 19.6% year over year, showing a growing loyalty and encourages the idea that your favorite drinks spot or own home bar may be featuring more Japanese Whisky in the near future (if they aren’t already)!


Want a deeper look at the trends impacting the alcohol industry? Check out our free consumer insights report, Trends Transforming Beverage Alcohol.

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Topics: sales data, social analytics, social data, consumer, consumer analytics, beverages, alcohol

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