Macallan Revs Up U.S. Mailings

The Macallan, maker of the No. 4 single malt scotch brand worldwide, is increasing its direct mail efforts into the United States with the next drop scheduled to coincide with Father's Day.

Prior to last year, The Macallan's U.S. direct mail was limited to a yearly mailing of The Macallandar, an expensive, branded calendar, and occasional other mailings sent to a list of 5,000 to 6,000 names and addresses gathered at promotional events or through other means.

The 2003 Macallandar went to a list of about 15,000 people. The 2004 Macallandar mailing probably will go to about 30,000.

As part of an effort to boost brand awareness in the United States, The Macallan cobbled together a list of about 40,000 names of self-identified whisky drinkers who match its core demographic: 40-plus males who can afford to spend $50 or $60 on a bottle of scotch.

However, the brand's 12-year-old, which accounts for 85 percent of sales, retails for less than $40.

“You get people who say 'I'm a whisky drinker' in their early 20s. That probably means a glass or two every three or four months. It's hardly worth talking to them in the short term,” said Jason Craig, direct marketing and Internet manager for The Macallan. “Whereas we know people 40s, 50s and 60s who are buying five, 10, 15 bottles per year, and they really want to be educated. It's like having targeted conversations with people who want to listen.”

Though the malt whisky market in the United Kingdom is declining, “there is almost a limitless potential for growth in the malt whisky market in the U.S.,” Craig said.

The Macallan cannot sell direct to consumers because of America's three-tiered distribution system of importers, distributors and retailers. So The Macallan will measure the effect of its mailings by, among other things, surveying recipients about their buying behavior.

“What we're also looking to do is measure in terms of member-get-member activity,” Craig said. “We've used that approach successfully in the UK and in France.”

Creative for the next mailing has yet to be determined. It probably will be one of the brand's signature expensive mailings along the lines of The Macallandar, which is designed to be perceived as a reward for being loyal to the brand, Craig said.

“If you're buying 10 to 15 bottles of The Macallan per year, then surely we can spend $10 to $15 on you,” he said.

The Macallan also relies on its mail recipients to be evangelists for the brand.

“That's more powerful than big-budget media campaigns because ultimately a personal recommendation carries more weight,” he said.

Glenfiddich is the leading single malt brand with a 17 percent share of the global market. The Macallan has 5 percent globally. It is the No. 5 single malt in the United States. It is the No. 1 single malt in Asia.

The Macallan is distilled at Craigellachie, Speyside, Scotland. It was legally established in 1824. Its core products are 12-, 18-, 25- and 30-year-old. The Macallan sells a 7-year-old in Italy, a 10-year-old in the UK and a 15-year-old in the United States.

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