Exploring the World of Whisky: Insights into Burns Night

Burns Night presents a unique opportunity for whisky brands to connect with consumers. However, our research shows that most people in the UK do not celebrate this traditional Scottish celebration. At Creating Possibilities, we wanted to uncover insights into how brands can motivate broader consumer interest in Burns Night as a whisky exploration and enjoyment platform.

Creating Possibilities Research Approach

In December 2020, Creating Possibilities conducted proprietary research into attitudes and behaviours around Burns Night amongst 500 consumers across the UK. We interviewed a nationally representative sample based on age, gender, location, income, their main supermarket, and claimed alcohol consumption.

The goal was to shed light on three key areas:

  1. Consumer attitudes towards Burns Night
  2. Whisky opportunities related to Burns Night
  3. Optimal communication platforms to promote whisky for Burns Night

Key Findings on Burns Night Relevance

The first insight from the research was the low relevance of Burns Night for most people in the UK. When asked, “Do you normally celebrate Burns Night?” a resounding 72% of respondents said they do not.

But what stops people from celebrating Burn Night? Burns Night simply does not factor into most people’s lives or traditions. When probed on reasons for not celebrating, the top responses were:

  • 33% – I’m not Scottish
  • 26% – I don’t know what it is
  • 8% – It’s not relevant
  • 5% – Never celebrated it
  • 2% – Not my tradition
  • 2% – I’m English

For most UK consumers, Burns Night is perceived as a Scottish tradition they cannot relate to or comprehend. There is a distinct lack of knowledge and accessibility around Burns Night that limits its broader appeal.

Key Findings on Whisky Opportunities

Despite the low awareness and engagement with Burns Night overall, our research identified promising opportunities for whisky brands.

Burns Night And Retailers

We found no statistical correlation between consumers’ preferred supermarket and their likelihood to celebrate Burns Night. In other words, where people shop does not impact their openness to Burns Night.

Burns Night and Whisky Drinkers

However, we did uncover a correlation between whisky consumption habits and Burns Night participation. Those less likely to celebrate Burns Night were also less likely to drink whisky, whether Scotch, Irish, or American varieties.

With this insight, we wondered whether whisky drinkers behaved differently with Burns Night, and applying our Agile Insight methodology, we were able to go back to the individuals who drank whisky and celebrated Burns Night to find out more about what and how they drank.

We discovered that there was a switch from premium or standard blended whisky to single malt whiskies, with a 25% growth in the number of single malt drinkers at Burns Night. We also noticed the source of volume coming from Irish and American whiskies into Standard Scotch whisky.

Our insight points out that Burns Night provides a significant opportunity, not just for Scotch Whisky, in particular Single Malt, but also for wider Scottish food and drink occasions.

Seizing Burns Night Opportunity – Insights into Optimal Communication Platforms

Following our discovery of a significant opportunity for Single Malt whisky, we wanted to understand how best to engage Burns Night acceptors and rejectors, so we developed 14 different Comms routes and tested them with the original group, using our Agile Insight methodology.

We discovered key insights around the relevancy of different content:

Burns Night Rejectors: This majority segment is largely disinterested in any Burns Night-related content. They will be difficult to motivate without more accessible entry points into understanding the tradition.

Burns Night Acceptors: This minority group is open to learning more about whisky and Burns Night traditions. They respond best to ideas like whisky cocktails, exploring different whisky varieties, and celebrity-led hosting tips.

Key Implications for Whisky Brands

These insights highlight a few important implications for whisky brands looking to leverage Burns Night:

  • Focus on those already open to Burns Night when promoting whisky. Attempting to convert Burns Night is a challenging objective. If so, focus on content that explains how to have a Burns Night and how whisky is involved.
  • Make whisky exploration accessible even for beginners. Do not assume knowledge of types of Scotch whisky.
  • Consider evaluating your content in advance with our Social Media Effectiveness service to ensure your content is going to achieve your objectives.
  • Partner with influencers or bartenders to showcase whisky versatility. Enlist experts to make whisky less intimidating. Our Social Media Effectiveness can help evaluate the pulling power of influencers.
  • Promote premium Single Malts as an upgrade for existing Burns Night consumers looking to enhance traditions.

There are opportunities for whisky brands to activate around Burns Night in engaging, meaningful ways. However, success requires understanding nuances in consumer attitudes and carefully targeting promotion. Burns Night is far from universally relevant, but it can serve as a discovery platform for the right audiences open to whisky exploration and innovation in their traditions.

Creating Possibilities: Experts in Agile Insight and Innovation

At Creating Possibilities, we are committed to helping brands like yours navigate the complexities of today’s consumer landscape. Our expertise in Agile Insight and Innovation allows us to rapidly uncover consumer truths and translate these into successful products and marketing.

Some key benefits we offer through our proprietary approach:

  • Rapid generation of consumer insights through sprints and continuous feedback loops
  • Data-driven validation of ideas and concepts with real consumers at every stage
  • Collaborative process encouraging client input and alignment
  • Focus on solving problems and creating innovations that consumers desire
  • The goal of quicker, better, cheaper innovation aligned with market needs
  • End-to-end support from insights to launch and beyond

The insights uncovered in our Burns Night research are just one example of how our Agile Innovation process can reveal opportunities and platforms for stronger consumer connections.

We would welcome the opportunity to explore how these learnings could inform your brand and innovation strategy. Get in touch today to book a consultation, or learn more about our services at the link below.

Ready to redefine your innovation potential? Click here to discover the Creating Possibilities difference.