Chivas Brothers: Identifying & Leaping Millennials’ Barriers to Scotch Whisky

The Scotch whisky category might be worth £1.5bn and Pernod-Ricard’s Chivas may already have a significant share – but it’s long been a source of frustration to them that Scotch is largely overlooked by Millennials.

The brilliant brief we received from Chivas’ team – was to help them understand Millennials’ barriers to consuming whisky – and find ways of leaping them …

A Product Problem?

Whilst Chivas have a proven track record of creating winning products for current Scotch drinkers, they were less clear about the tastes and preferences of non-scotch drinking Millennials.

An Image Problem?

Lots of opinions suggested that Scotch was seen as ‘remote’, ‘dusty’ and an ‘old man’s drink’ – but there were few facts.

A Social Problem?

There were also hypotheses that Millennials were increasingly rejecting ‘hard-alcohol’, that female Millennial might feel scotch lacked relevance to them, and that there might even be ‘group-dynamics’ issues in ‘bottle-markets’ – but again, there were few facts…

How do Millennials Really Think, Feel & Act?

Before we could help Chivas’ team generate a relevant and disruptive barrier-leaping strategy – it was clear we needed to help them gain a much better understanding of how Millennials really think, feel and behave.


To do that, we needed to get up close and personal …

Online Ethnography

To really get to know our respondents, we spent ten days with them – chatting about their socialising and drinking habits.

We discovered the importance of occasion, location and group dynamics.

Consumer Safaris in Bars

So our observations reflected reality, rather than distorted perception & faulty recall – our moderators spent time in bars socialising with friendship groups.

We learned the importance of mood, evening-part – and the ‘veto-vote’.

Global Learnings

Fieldwork in Six Cities

Our planning team executed simultaneous Online Ethnographies and In-Bar Safaris in Paris, London, Madrid, Taipei, Mexico City and New York.


As you might anticipate, there were common learnings, but also, important regional differences.

Barriers Identified

Once the Ethnographic and Safari evidence was analysed the barriers became clear …


Some related to the anticipated taste, but many others related to perceptions of Scotch’s personality.


It quickly become obvious that these barriers could be leaped – as they didn’t inhibit the appeal of American Bourbons to the same audiences.


However, a lot of work still needed to be done to make the image of Scotch more appetising, up-beat, approachable and accessible to women.

Creatively Leaping Barriers & Unlocking Scotch’s Potential

The challenge was clear – whilst a sweeter, smoother, more accessible taste-profile would be ideal – the biggest need was to re-invent perceptions.


A role clearly existed for a more lively, engaging, inclusive and fun persona – more closely related to American Bourbons than traditional, masculine Scotch.

Planning & Preparing a Team Workshop

Brand Development’s planners and consultants worked closely with the Chivas team to craft the insights into bite-size barriers – that would focus and inspire the cross functional team’s brainstorming.

Delivering a Successful Cross-Functional Workshop

Our moderators ran a high-energy ideation workshop in which a cross-functional team, including a ‘pack’ of Millennial Creatives, could leap barriers – and explore how Scotch might be reinvented to match the needs of drinkers like themselves!

Crafting Ideas into Winning Concepts

Working closely with Chivas’ core team we created a pipeline of inclusive millennial-friendly concepts that removed the barriers to ‘whisky for all’.


The most relevant and compelling concept being a smoother, bourbon-style product – with a relaxed and easy going attitude …

Bringing a Smoother, More Approachable Scotch to Life

Once we’d helped the team identify actionable insights and a strategically relevant proposition – our part in the project was completed.


But the time-consuming work of product-development, packaging design and comms creation had only just begun.

  • The new Scotch is a blend of seven year old single malts and grain whiskies – finished in ex-bourbon casks sourced in Kentucky.
  • The label graphics and glass colours have clearly been carefully selected to share a tonality with a well known brand of Kentucky Bourbon.
  • The comms, created in collaboration with CPB London, bring the proposition to life within the storyline:  Ballantine’s 7.  Scotch Whisky. American Attitude!


In the opinion of reviewers it’s “soft and gentle, yet flavoursome” with ” sweet and fruity notes (that) slowly fade”.


Ballantine’s 7 Bourbon Finish has now been launched into 18 global markets.


Barriers identified + creatively leapt = job done!

What’s Your Challenge?

What is the challenge that’s holding back your business growth?

  • Disruptive Strategy: Need to refocus your ways-of-winning?
  • New Product Ideas:  Need to build a pipeline of breakthrough NPD?
  • Brand Renovation: Need to revitalise an existing brand?
  • Brand Stretch: Need to build new value streams from your core brand equity?

Whatever your challenge – we can help!

Unlocking Growth!

We can help you create online and face-to-face insight gathering, ideation and concept sharpening solutions that work – whatever your budget and timeframe.

If you’d like to explore how we could help you make it happen – give us a call on +44 1491 411272, or connect with David or Joanna via LinkedIn.