Ref: IMD-7-2014

Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2014

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The Macallan's branding response to the single malt whisky shortage

Stefan Michel

By Professor Stefan MichelStefan Michel, Stefano Poli, Andrea Spaggiari and Anita Treiber

This case is about global marketing, brand equity, overall business strategy and supply management.

The case outlines the bold and polarizing strategic choices made by The Macallan management between 2009 and 2017 and offers an opportunity to debate and discuss the next best strategic move for The Macallan brand.

The Macallan is part of the Edrington Group, which distributes the Famous Grouse, Scotland’s leading blended whisky and The Macallan, which is now the global number three single malt Scotch whisky. The Macallan built a strong brand equity and reputation with its rich flavored whiskies, using age as the key communication tool to indicate quality for decades.

In 2009 The Macallan launched its first single malt whisky in travel retail without any age statement on it. The travel exclusive line up was followed by additional products for retail focused on color as a differentiator. These new retail products replaced the majority of The Macallan’s age line-up in the biggest market Europe (ages between 8 and 17), while older versions stayed on the market.

These surprising innovations were in response to the growing demand combined with serious supply constraints. The Macallan invested in extending its production capacity, and students will be able to debate whether The Macallan should move back to the old age days or keep moving on with the strategy introduced in 2009. Or use a strategy combining both.

Learning Objective

Apply different concepts and discuss them: global marketing, product portfolio strategy, Keller brand equity model, pricing strategy and supply management.


  • How to compare 3 different business strategies
  • How to create a global strategy which can be tailored to fit the needs of the different regions to maximize the global business impact
  • How to understand the impact different strategies can have on brand equity
  • How to manage short term supply constraints and long term strategic goals.
TypePublished Sources
Related materialTeaching note
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Reference: IMD-7-2014

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Case study

Reference: IMD-7-2014

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