[Exclusive interview]: Knut Hansen Gin sets sail for export success

The sprightly gin sector is set fair to continue broad-based global growth, forecasts The IWSR/Vinexpo Spirits report for the period 2017-2022. Among the plethora of new launches, German gin newcomer Knut Hansen seeks its share of international sales growth, say joint founders Martin Spieker and Kaspar Hagedorn

Q: In a crowded gin market what are the major challenges for the Knut Hansen brand?
A: Yes, the market is crowded – especially in Europe – but we strongly believe that a premium product with an outstanding design will always get its space on the shelf of the retailer and the consumer. Our major challenge is (as for many handcrafted brands) to build up distribution. It is not that easy to bring the consumer in contact with your brand, when you are a start-up, which we still are after two years on the market.

Q: What explains the popularity of gin?
A: In our eyes the key feature is the wide target group: young and “old”, women and men. In addition gin offers a huge playground for brands in terms of taste, distillation methods and so on.

Q: What advantages does the Knut Hansen brand have in this context?
We offer a premium, juniper-focused dry gin – which today doesn’t seem to be common anymore – with a very mild and balanced mixture at the same time. We know exactly where all our botanicals come from. This, in combination with our outstanding and totally unique design, lets us think we have a quite good brand in our hands

Q: What distinguishes Knut Hansen from other gins?
A: In addition to the answer above, we ourselves; that is, Kaspar Hagedorn and me as founders attend 150 events a year to bring the product to the retailer and consumer. It is important for us to be in touch with our clients to understand, what they need and what they think about our product.

Q: Please describe your target consumer
A: According to marketing textbooks, the answer should be one clear sentence. But that isn’t so easy. We have lots of people in different age groups buying our product, though slightly more men. A lot of people buy KNUT as a gift, for sure.

Q: How important is consumer and trade education/Please describe an education and promotional programme?
A: Events, fairs, festivals. We use every chance to meet the clients personally.

Q: How much investment has been put behind the Knut Hansen range?
A: Let’s compare it with the value of a small car. We are very proud that we were able to finance the “project” by ourselves.

Q: How important are exports for the success of the brand?
A: Exports are quite a big part of our sales value and will certainly grow in the next month.

Q: In which countries can the brand be found?
A: Today the brand is found in 13 different countries including Italy, Denmark and Norway in Europe (amongst many others), as well as Japan and Taiwan in Asia. We have also started to produce in Cape Town, South Africa. As far as we know, we are the first European brand being produced locally there.

Company background: Created by Martin Spieker and Kaspar Hagedorn in 2017, Knut Hansen Gin is produced by distiller 4anchors in the village of Dollerup near Hamburg. The brand celebrates the German adventurer Knut Hansen, and is made with 14 botanicals sourced locally in north Germany