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Turning A Weakness into A Strength, A Brand Recovers Market Share

In a business environment that’s becoming more and more competitive because of the democratization of a lot of things, the proliferation of options that face the consumers makes it hard for brands to own a large part of the market and to sustain leadership for a long time.

Heritage brands and long-time market leaders are always prone to losing shares to competition or new brands in the category. This is true due to several reasons: 1) they have been so used to being number 1 that they lost the urgency to move with the times and keep themselves updated with what’s happening in the competitive landscape, 2) they have grown accustomed to what’s been working and have not moved to change their message or how they reach their consumers, 3) as market leaders, they have the biggest share of the pie, therefore the one that stands to lose the most to aggressive newcomers.

Has your company ever lost valuable customers? If so, you know that the experience can be quite painful. In this case study, we will explore how our client Tanduay was able to regain lost customers and thrive once again. We will outline the steps they took and the results they achieved. So, if you're looking to recapture a lost customer, read on!

Client Profile: Tanduay

Tanduay Distillers, Inc. is the oldest subsidiary of the Lucio Tan Group. It is one of the biggest rum brands and has a 99% share in the Philippine rum category. Tanduay produces a wide range of rum products and a variety of distilled spirits. In addition to its wide range of products, Tanduay is also known for its high quality and competitive prices.

Tanduay is more than just rum. It's a national icon that represents the best of what Filipinos stand for: honorable, brave, resilient, dedicated and most importantly respect for elders and family values. These characteristics have made Tanduay what it stands for today. Not only is it the choice drink for any celebration, but it has also become a part of who we are as people.

The Challenge

When the alcoholic beverage company Tanduay engaged with us, they needed to regain lost business. The challenge was to turn around the decline and the goal was to regain growth for Tanduay. We devised a plan that would help them to achieve this. First, we conducted market research to understand the current landscape. We then created a marketing campaign that would raise awareness of the brand and generate interest. Finally, we implemented a sales strategy that would help to increase revenue. Thanks to our efforts, Tanduay was able to regain their lost business and achieve growth once again.

Our Game Plan

Our game plan consisted of 3 phases: situational analysis (phase 1), brand positioning and packaging development (phase 2a), marketing plan development (phase 2b), and implementation (phase 3).

In each phase, we helped the client ask the right questions and helped them answer these questions. Acumen's role was to conduct a Comprehensive Business Review leading to Issues/Opportunities. We designed, supervised and analyzed the following: comprehensive need states research, product tests, and a series of qualitative research on product, packaging and advertising. We came up with a Comprehensive Relaunch Plan that aims for (1) Stronger Brand Positioning and Advertising and (2) Cohesive Portfolio Strategy to maximize growth and cover white spaces.

For Tanduay to regain its business, it needs to strengthen its value proposition, not by changing the product to target the dominant brand's users, but by having a distinct and relevant positioning to a chosen target market who continues to value a strong drinking experience and by using a portfolio approach (i.e., several brands) to compete against the newer brand. We have looked at the following products in Tanduay's existing portfolio and reviewed the role of each Tanduay variant.

Our Learnings

During our focus group discussions, we have discovered that drinking is an indispensable part of the Filipino social weave. Filipinos love drinking in order to relax, to bond with friends and to have fun moments together.

We have also found out that there has been a major market shift in the past years where gin and rhum lost shares and brandy became the dominant choice across all regions. The dominant brand became successful due to its tapping of latent consumer needs, changing consumer expectations on what a strong value proposition is. The dominant brand that emerged redefined what value is - right price, right hit, most acceptable taste, minimal to no hangover and an enjoyable bonding experience. It has a very high product appeal, delivers an ideal drinking experience and the pricing is just right.

Meanwhile, Tanduay's value proposition is that it has a slightly cheaper price, strong taste and strong hit. Tanduay's alcohol strength is the main reason for shifting, the drinking experience is less than ideal and even more so, the hangover after-effect.

Our Recommendations

The Acumen team recommended to relaunch Tanduay with a clear target market focus and a long-term brand vision and identity, a media strategy that properly supports the Brand Identity with the right split between thematic and activation support and a Strong, differentiated brand-building advertising. Its core brand identity and proposition must be relevant, unique and capitalizing on the brand’s strengths. The extended identity must include assets built through the years.

The Outcome

The consulting engagement with Tanduay resulted in a business turnaround in both revenue and share growth. Acumen, as retained consultants, is tasked to (1) assist in the launch of a new brand to cover white space and to (2) build capabilities of marketing team. Acumen continued to work with Tanduay as their trusted consultants, helping them navigate the ever-changing landscape of the alcoholic beverage industry. Thanks to Tanduay’s partnership with Acumen, they are on track to reach their long-term business goals.

“Tanduay is already Number 1 worldwide in the rum category. We would like to thank and acknowledge Acumen for being part of this success.”
– Paul Lim, Tanduay Marketing AVP


About the Author Chelet Tanjuatco

Chelet is the head for Marketing and Brand Strategy at Acumen Strategy Consultants. She has 20 years of marketing experience in various industries such as Beverage, Dairy, Food, and Confectionary. She started her Marketing Career in San Miguel Beer where she handled both economy and premium beer brands.

She then spent 9 years in Fonterra Brands and led the growth of different Dairy Categories such as Maternal, Family Milk, and Dairy Foods with her expertise in Brand Positioning, Innovation and Concept Development. She was part of Fonterra Regional Team (Asia Middle East) think tank for Innovation and brand architecture for brands in the Maternal, Kids, Family, and Dairy Foods categories.

Chelet’s passion for understanding the business and the consumer continues to drive her in leading various projects for Acumen such as Tanduay, Conti’s, Century Pacific, Western Union, Sky Cable, and Hershey’s, and the first cross-generational consumer understanding research of Acumen. She is also a professor at the UA&P, teaching Brand Management and Human Insight to IMC students.



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