Quite frankly, we live in a world that, as a result of the COVID-19, would tempt anyone to want a drink. With the pandemic still lingering but a sense of normalcy on the horizon, business is following suit. While it may sound a bit out of left field, one thing that is “happening” right now is tequila.

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It’s been quite a while since we have had a fresh new take on alcohol, right? It is what we call “on trend” now. More of the US population is getting enticed by this spirit every year, making it the fastest-growing liquor segment in the country. And perhaps this trendiness has something to do with celebrities and the sheer number of celebrity tequila brands available on the market. 

It is hard to write a story concerning celebrities and tequila and not mention George Clooney. He is one of the biggest such success stories, with his brand Casamigos having sold for a stellar $1 billion in 2017, after just 4 years in operation. So it’s safe to assume that Clooney had a couple of celebratory tequila shots after that deal was signed. 

 

Which Celebs Have Tequila Brands?

While George Clooney may have been the most successful example of a celebrity-turned-tequila-entrepreneur, he was not the first. That distinction belongs to another “sexiest man alive” winner, who happens to be the first name on our list below. But the epic prosperity of Casamigos, in particular, helped spurn a flurry of new brands from celebrities, most of them finding at least moderate success. The relationship between celebrities and tequila seems beneficial for both parties and shows no signs of slowing.

Here’s a list of some of the big-time celebrities who have ventured into the world of tequila. 

Justin Timberlake

As mentioned above, Justin Timberlake entered the fray way before many of the other celebs did when he launched his brand of Tequila Sauza 901 in 2009. 

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

The Rock launched his Tequila brand Teremana in 2019. The brand is positioned as a premium but affordable Tequila and has been one of the most successful celebrity launches. Teremana shipped around 400,000 cases in its first year of operation, a massive success all fueled by outreach led by Johnson himself.

 

Nick Jonas

Nick Jonas and menswear designer John Varvatos launched Villa One in partnership with the Stoli Group in 2019. This super-premium brand of tequila is now available across the US and was also promoted by Priyanka Chopra, the famous actress who also happens to be married to Nick Jonas, on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

AC/DC

AC/DC added Tequila to their growing list of alcoholic beverage offerings, including wine, bourbon, and beer. Thunderstruck Tequila is named after their hit single and was launched in 2016 in three variants. 

Rita Ora

Próspero, owned in part by Rita Ora, the UK-based singer, launched in April 2019. She tied up with Conecuh Brands, a spirits marketing firm, to bring the product to life. Próspero is highly rated by the experts for its quality and is available in blanco, reposado, and añejo variants.

Michael Jordan

Cincoro, the premium Tequila brand, came into existence through the collaboration between Michael Jordan, his then-fiancee Emilia Fazzalari, and NBA team owners like Jeanie Buss (daughter of the late LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss), Wyc Grousbeck (Boston Celtics), and Wes Edens (Milwaukee Bucks). Backed by a team of experienced professionals, Cincoro is expanding its reach in the market and is one of the most premium tequila brands available today. 

Kendall Jenner

No stranger to monetizing her brand, Kendall Jenner still turned a lot of heads by revealing her role behind Tequila 818, an award-winning Tequila brand. According to her posts on Instagram, Jenner worked behind the scenes for 4 years to create the best tequila possible. It seems as if her work has paid off, as 818 Tequila has already won many awards in international contests, even though it was mostly a stealth project that did not reveal her involvement until quite recently.

The launch did not come without its share of controversy, however. Jenner was accused by many of “cultural appropriation” for her appearance in an ad for the product. Jenner can be seen riding a horse through an agave farm in Jalisco, Mexico, in braided pigtails before joyfully giving “cheers” to the native farmers in the commercial.

Given how the Kardashian-Jenners have their way of influencing and building businesses, despite a constant stream of controversy, it would not be a surprise to see 818 Tequila grow to be a global name in the coming years. 

 

Big Names Entering The Space

The list of celebrity tequila brands is seemingly endless, with more celebrities and celebrity brands launching in the past few years. It’s hard not to be a trendy drink in the company of names like The Rock, George Clooney, Kendall Jenner, and Michael Jordan, right? Also, throw Tesla and Elon Musk into the mix. They launched a limited edition tequila in a lightning-bolt-shaped bottle that started as an April Fools joke in 2018

So did the trend begin first, or did celebs create it? Here are some things that we can distill from the story of celebrities and their love for tequila brands (you see what we did there?)

 

Alcohol Says Something About The Personality

Alcoholic beverages have extensively leveraged traits like personality and aspiration in their brand messaging. Everyone has a favorite drink, and there are some associations you subconsciously make about a person depending on what it is.

Indeed, tequila is not a new spirit. It has been around for centuries, though it’s most commonly known as the alcoholic portion of the famous “margarita,” which was first created back in 1936. But, looking at it from a business perspective, tequila was sort of a blank canvas for celebrities, and they helped shape the narrative to make it the cool and trendy category we see today. 

Tequila has experienced a recent rebirth of sorts, reestablishing itself as a partygoer’s favorite. In 2015, when a few daring bartenders started to explore tequila beyond margaritas, the spirit became synonymous with fun and variety that went beyond just being a shot of liquor. In fact, this rebirth is also educating consumers about savoring their tequilas, taking a page out of the books of whiskey and scotch aficionados. 

 

Potential Growth

If we put on our business hat and look at the situation in its entirety, it is not too difficult to see how this segment has a ton of growth potential. It has shown signs that it is not a seemingly “passing” trend, showing steady growth year on year, and it has the potential to grow even further. All these factors make tequila a desirable proposition for both celebrities and budding entrepreneurs. The global tequila market currently sits at $9.4 billion and is expected to reach $14.7 billion by 2028. In the 6 years since Casamigos was launched, the tequila segment grew 66% in the US alone.

One of the biggest advantages of tequila is that making it is not a time-intensive operation. Most of the work happens in packaging and marketing the product, with contact distilleries producing the required quantities based in Mexico. 

 

Shorter Supply Cycles And Increased Availability

Agave, the plant from which the syrup is extracted to begin the process of fermentation, is grown in hot and arid regions. It is native to Mexico, where it is abundant due to its resiliency. Adverse climate and the availability of water have a minimal impact on this plant, helping to keep costs low, and to some extent, also hedges the bet. With the weather not having a significant factor in production, it also ensures year-round availability.

One of the other advantages of tequila is that it doesn’t need to be aged as long as spirits. In fact, the longest that tequila has to be aged is 3 years, for the añejo varieties. This accelerated aging process means the supply can be consistently maintained, with reduced waiting time for distillers to get the product to market. 

 

They Have Influence

Celebrities have a lot of influence on the lifestyle affairs of the young and the trendy. Most of them have a captive audience that is happy to take their recommendations and make buying decisions based on them. Social media is critical in this. Most celebrities have a following in the millions, which they can easily leverage.

As a business venture, tequila satisfies many criteria that make it a good fit for all forms of marketing, particularly influencer marketing. Outside of the fact that it’s a moneymaker, it also portrays a certain image and perhaps even enhances it. Upscale, entrepreneurial, sophisticated. And we haven’t even scratched the surface on the role that social platforms can play. Users are highly influenced by social media. As creators become more “brands” than individual entities, ventures into these types of segments provide a world of new opportunities – for both creators and brands alike.

But let’s keep in mind; most celebrities do not embark on this journey alone. They have a solid team behind them (not to mention investors, in most cases) with enough experience in the domain to make sound, strategic business decisions.  In fact, Dwayne Johnson talks about his tequila brand Teremana and markets it as an ultra-premium small-batch spirit. But his venture is also headed by Jenna Fagnan and Ken Austin, who, along with Dany Garcia, are immensely experienced in the industry. Their collective experience and insight have certainly provided a profound contribution to the brand’s success. 

 

In Closing

Putting it into perspective, it feels kind of funny to pull back and wonder, “why do I think about celebrities and tequila brands?” But it’s undeniable that tequila has recently found a new wave of passionate support in the US and across the world. From its humble origins in margaritas, tequila has built its own identity as a premium spirit, and the role that celebrities played in this ascension should not be ignored. It has been a business relationship that has been beneficial to both celebrities and the tequila industry. 

On the surface, it’s difficult to identify the one overriding reason for this trend of celebs launching tequila brands. But it’s seemingly true that tequila brings together aspects of brand and image that celebrities can easily leverage with a scalable and sustainable business model with space for growth. 

Tequila today accounts for 10% of alcohol consumed in the US and 1% globally. This rising demand, fueled by the influence of these celebrities, makes it a very intriguing segment to monitor for any brand. 

And well, for the rest of us, more tequila!

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