Effective marketing is critical to success in the competitive global rum industry, which is expected to grow from US $13.7 billion in 2022 to $17.7 billion in 2027 at a rate of 5.2%. Edwin Hincapie, Brand Director of Santa Teresa Rum at Bacardi, shares insights with Portada on their targeted approach for the U.S. market, emphasizing the Hispanic consumer. Hincapie is the day-to-day champion of the brand, focusing on growth in the U.S. Santa Teresa is a significant brand in Venezuela with a 200-year history. In 2018, Bacardi and Santa Teresa announced a 50:50 joint venture, according to which Bacardi handles distribution and marketing for Santa Teresa in all markets but Venezuela.
Hincapie tells us about the brand’s overall rum marketing strategy and experiential, influencer, digital, and shopper marketing initiatives.
Rum Marketing: The Target Hispanic Consumer
“The primary target of Santa Teresa Rum in the U.S. is the Hispanic consumer, a key demographic in our rum marketing,” explains Edwin Hincapie. He details the importance of targeting the Hispanic market for effective rum marketing, focusing on the states where Santa Teresa Rum sales are the largest: Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, and New York. “It is with the Hispanic consumer where we have to win because the barrier to premium brands is lower.” Santa Teresa Rum has more vital awareness among Hispanics because of the brand’s Venezuelan origin and strong brand recognition in Colombia, Panama, and other Latin American countries. Approximately 40% of U.S.-based Venezuelans live in Florida, where Santa Teresa Rum targets the middle and upper-income demographic.
Santa Teresa Rum primarily targets the overarching Hispanic premium spirit drinker. The overall campaign is more of a total market campaign driven by psychographics and lifestyle elements rather than targeting a specific segment. “Hispanic culture is weaved into everything,” says Hincapie. As an example the recently launched “Great Rum, Greater Purpose”, campaign was entirely shot at the Hacienda Santa Teresa in Venezuela. “All hints to a Hispanic DNA,” Hincapie maintains.
“All hints to a Hispanic DNA.”
Experiential Marketing: ‘Liquid to Lips”
Discussing experiential rum marketing, Hincapie highlights the importance of ‘liquid to lips’ sampling and sports sponsorships as effective strategies in rum marketing: “Our biggest to way to convert is “liquid to lips, this includes sampling of Santa Teresa Rum, at the Miami Marlins stadium. Bacardi is a sponsor of the Miami Marlins MLB team. The sponsorship also includes the Miami Marlins being the main sponsor of Venezuelan Heritage Month and exposure in in-stadium and off-stadium Miami Marlins media.
“Our biggest way to convert is ‘liquid to lips’, this includes sampling of Santa Teresa Rum, at the Miami Marlins stadium.”
Digital Rum Marketing: Maximizing Online Presence
Together with experiential, digital marketing is a crucial driver of Bacardi’s Santa Teresa Rum marketing. Digital media includes social media and open web advertising opportunities, mainly through a partnership with Martini Media. The “Great Rum, Greater Purpose,” see paragraph at the end of this article, went life on December 1, 2023, across brand-owned platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. Santa Teresa Rum also partners with the alcoholic beverage trade publication Shanken Communications, which includes print ads.
Influencer Rum Marketing: Building Brand Advocacy
“Influencer partnerships are a critical part of our rum marketing strategy,” Hincapie notes. Hincapie states that the influencers Santa Teresa Rum most uses are expert influencers, including bar owners who are city-specific, as well as lifestyle influencers. Influencers tie in with the company’s social strategy.
Rum Marketing in Retail: Strengthening Shopper Relationships
“Partnering with physical stores is critical,” states Hincapie, discussing the importance of retail partnerships in effective rum marketing. Partners include Mega Wine and Spirits, which has a strong presence in Florida. “We are looking at other strong retail partners,” says Hincapie.
Rum Marketing and Sports: A Strategic Connection
From a psychographics and lifestyle perspective, “sports play a huge role in our rum marketing strategy,” says Hincapie. He discusses the integration of sports in rum marketing, such as through Project Alcatraz, using sports like soccer, rugby, and baseball to connect with the target demographic. For the future, Hincapie does not rule out soccer activations, perhaps with the Venezuelan National Team (called the “vinotinto”) or other marketing initiatives leveraging the Copa America national team championships next Summer in the U.S.
Great Rum, Greater Purpose Campaign
Santa Teresa Rum’s latest ad campaign, “Great Rum, Greater Purpose,” gets to the heart of the transformational journey integral to Santa Teresa’s mission. Through a captivating visual exploration of the meticulous process behind crafting the family-owned brand’s renowned triple-aged Solera rum and ongoing work through Project Alcatraz, a social reintegration program run through the “Fundación Santa Teresa,” the campaign serves as a testament to the brand’s dedication to exceptional rum craftsmanship and meaningful societal impact.
In addition to revealing the artistry behind the Santa Teresa 1796 rum, the film sheds light on Santa Teresa’s impactful work through the Santa Teresa Foundation-run Project Alcatraz, providing not only employment opportunities at the Hacienda Santa Teresa but offering a second chance at life through psychological assistance, educational opportunities and distilling core values through the unexpected sport of rugby. Through this innovative social rehabilitation program, these individuals become integral team members responsible for crafting the exquisite rum. The campaign holds a cast that includes prominent members of the Santa Teresa team and wider Venezuelan community, notably, Nancy Duarte, the brand’s first female Master Distiller, Project Alcatraz member, Anther Herrera, and esteemed Venezuelan Actor and Director, Cesar Manzano. The creative vision behind the campaign was brought to life by Cinematographer and Director, Matt Bendo. The campaign was conceptualized by Only Much Louder (OML), a Mumbai-based content and entertainment media house known for driving cultural impact for brands, with Venezuelan production agency, Black Cat, offering an opportunity for collaboration with local film and production talent.