William Grant & Sons marks “dawn of a new era in GTR” for Glenfiddich

By Faye Bartle |

Gwilym Cooke, Head of Brand Marketing, Global Travel Retail, William Grant & Sons.

Gwilym Cooke, Head of Brand Marketing, Global Travel Retail, William Grant & Sons.

William Grant & Sons is marking a significant step forward in its continued development in global travel retail (GTR) with its channel exclusive Glenfiddich Perpetual Collection hailed as the brand’s biggest launch in travel retail in the past decade.

Gwilym Cooke, Head of Brand Marketing, Global Travel Retail, William Grant & Sons (WG&S) spoke of the significance of the collection and its associated activations in an interview with TRBusiness during the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes.

“It’s really important for us, as it resets the foundations for Glenfiddich as a brand,” said Cooke, who moved into his new role at the company in April.

“It feels like we are hailing the dawn of a new era in GTR and it chimes with our commitment to focus on and invest in the channel.

“We are a brand that is fairly restless. We want to continue to push the boundaries and move forward and I think this is a great expression of us doing that.”

Launching the Glenfiddich Perpetual Collection

As reported, the travel retail exclusive Perpetual Collection launched in duty free and travel retail channels in Europe in August, with its full global rollout completed by October.

Glenfiddich Perpetual Collection.

Vat 01 and Vat 02 in the four-strong GTR exclusive Glenfiddich Perpetual Collection.

To highlight the collection, Glenfiddich launched its first in-person experience with a series of immersive pop-ups at selected airports around the world, starting with Singapore Changi Airport (27 September to 31 October) – you can read more about them in our previous article.

“We are really excited to be back and activating,” said Cooke.

“Seeing the build come to life and getting that feeling that we are back in earnest investing and engaging with our consumers in GTR felt like an important moment,” he said.

“The symbolic aspect of it is something that got us all quite excited.”

Glenfiddich immersive airport pop-ups for the launch of the Perpetual Collection.

An artist’s impression of Glenfiddich’s immersive airport pop-ups for the launch of the Perpetual Collection.

The furniture for each pop-up is broken down and moved to the next location in line with a desire to re-use and repurpose materials where possible.

The concept of the expressions being perpetually in motion due to being aged in Solera Vats that have never been emptied – a process that is reflected in the interactive elements of the pop-ups – is particularly fitting for the travel space.

Exclusively a key factor on winning over consumers

In terms of what consumers are currently looking for in the category, Cooke highlights exclusively as an important aspect of how to win from a brand point of view in GTR.

“The value exchange seems to be evolving to a degree,” he said. “We still have the bedrock of price with the duty free element, but it seems to be driven more by Gen Z and millennial consumers who are looking for something a little bit more.

“Exclusively is something that is unique and has a meaningful story behind it. It’s what we’ve strived to do with the Perpetual Collection, which is vibrant, desirable and contemporary.”

The Balvenie The Week of Peat Aged 19 Years.

The Balvenie The Week of Peat Aged 19 Years.

Another channel exclusive, the limited edition The Balvenie The Week of Peat Aged 19 Years is another key launch for WG&S, which builds on the brand’s strategy to introduce a dedicated range of whiskies for its GTR customers.

“It’s hard to be definitive on what that will look like in the future, as it is something we are working towards,’ said Cooke.

“I think the cask collection is a demonstration of our intent to move toward ranges that are exclusive to the global traveller. There’s a lot we are exploring.

“The Balvenie is really well known for its cask finishing and I think in future ranges we will be celebrating aspects that are inherent to the brand, such as the craftmanship, the finishing processes and some of the amazing stories behind it.”

The quirky Hendrick’s Gin Bureau de Change pop-up at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in summer delivered a fun experience for consumers.

“We have a platform with Hendrick’s to be really curious and dial up the curiosity,” said Cooke.

“I am confident next year that we are going to be moving forward with some really exciting installations – maybe cucumber based. Expect more to come.”

Raising further awareness of the GTR exclusive Hendrick’s Amazonia Gin, a limited release from Ms Lesley Gracie’s Cabinet of Curiosities at the Hendrick’s Gin Palace, which launched in 2019, will feed into this.

Seven months into his new role, Cook is focused on ramping up the “fun and experiential” side of the brands in the portfolio to GTR and engaging consumers at every point of the journey.

“Our current focus for 2023 is going to be about establishing the Glenfiddich Perpetual Collection, rolling it out and making sure the execution of each new launch lives up to all the work that has gone into it over the past two-and-a-half years to make this special collection,” he said.

“Similarly, with The Balvenie and Hendrick’s Amazonia – we have a lot of exciting things that were are launching or have launched to be experienced by consumers.

“Luxury is another area,” he added. “We have reset the foundations for Glenfiddich and we have lots of variants that ladder up, right through to our new 50-year-old. Thinking about the opportunities within the luxury space is something that’s going to be quite exciting and a strategic focus.”

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