Package design, marketing and price point for Malibu rum were all designed with a relaxed, casual summertime occasion in mind. However, a plethora of occasions and consumer types opened the Purchase, N.Y.-based Pernod Ricard brand’s eyes to new opportunities. By diversifying its portfolio, Malibu aims to appeal to more consumers more often throughout the year.

To provide consumers with a convenience offering, the brand launched Malibu Cocktails in 2009. Made with Malibu rum, the cocktails are packaged in a flexible pouch with a spout that enables consumers to take pre-mixed Caribbean Cosmo, Rum Punch and Tropical Mojito varieties on-the-go.

Last year, in order to bring the brand’s “summer state of mind” into the winter season, Malibu winterized its flagship product, Malibu Original, with limited-edition packaging and the addition of floating coconut flakes in the rum. The Malibu Winter Limited Edition bottle treats the bottle’s flagship white background as snow and clears out a space on the front of the package for a transparent window that showcases the coconut “snowflakes” floating inside. The inside of the bottle is bright blue, mimicking a frosted winter wonderland with snowflake graphics.

“We’re a brand that’s so associated with summer that we thought, ‘What could we do that’s fun in the winter?’” says Lisa McCann, brand director for Malibu. “So we tried to play off the whole snow globe idea.”

Malibu Winter Limited Edition was available from October through December and was well received among consumers and the brand’s distributors, McCann says.

In addition to bringing the summer state of mind to the winter season, Malibu strives to bring the brand into high-energy markets and appeal to both male and female consumers.

“Malibu [Original] is our hero; it’s kind of around which we focus everything, and that’s the key driver of our business, but then we started to look at consumers and different consumer needs, dates and occasions,” McCann explains. “We started to realize that there really was a big opportunity to have much more of a portfolio approach to the market.

“We knew that consumers like the taste profile of Malibu, but it just wasn’t delivering in some of the other occasions that they were looking to, so Malibu Black and Malibu Red were born,” she says. 

Malibu Black, a 70-proof rum targeted more toward men, was introduced in the summer of 2011. Taking it one step further, the company is launching Malibu Red, a 70-proof blend of Malibu rum and tequila, next month. 

Malibu Original, which also is referred to as Malibu White because of its packaging color scheme, was somewhat skewed toward female consumers in the past, McCann says. Increasing the alcohol content, however, is designed to help the brand better appeal to men, she says.

“In much of the research we’ve done, guys are really favorable to Malibu,” McCann says. “They really like the taste of it, but it just doesn’t have the proof level that they’re looking for, so Black [and Red] will hopefully deliver that for us.”

But first, the brand must decide where a spirit made from rum and tequila belongs at retail.

“What we’d actually like to do is keep it in the rum section because it is Malibu; it’s part of our family and we want to make sure that it stays with the Malibu franchise, but we definitely think as things move forward maybe there will be an opportunity in the future to also extend it into the tequila section,” McCann says.

Malibu Red will retail at a premium to Malibu Original and will be available at on- and off-premise locations. The idea for the spirit was developed through the brand’s collaboration with R&B musician Ne-Yo, who will play a big part in the product’s marketing initiatives.

Malibu puts a significant investment behind all of its new product launches. However, when Malibu Red makes its debut next month, it will be supported by one of the brand’s largest global marketing initiatives, including TV, print, online and out-of-home advertising, digital and exclusive multimedia content, public relations, events, on- and off-premise sampling, point-of-sale merchandise and more, the company says.

As for the rest of the Malibu portfolio, the brand’s marketing plans include year-round activations with a continued emphasis on the summer months.

“We certainly try to upgrade all our activations through the summer months,” McCann says. “We have a big advertising component that happens through the summer; we have a big push with our Radio Maliboom Boom summer concert tour, so we continue to activate during the summer months, but then we also extend the activations through the rest of the year just so that consumers are constantly reminded that we’re there.”

Malibu’s flavored rums, ready-to-drink cocktails, high-proof rums and hybrid spirits have their own characteristics to attract consumers, but also reflect the brand’s original coconut rum, helping it to succeed, McCann says. In the end, it’s all about giving consumers a taste of summer wherever, whenever. BI