Tom Maas didn’t know just how well his self-blended rum drink would be received on social media when he created RumChata.
“I didn’t know what Facebook was to start. I was the first like on my own,” Maas told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer on Friday.
Now, Maas, the CEO and master blender of privately-held liquor maker Agave Loco, has made RumChata the No. 1 liquor brand on social media.
RumChata, a blend of rum and horchata, a sweet, creamy drink that’s popular in Mexico, gets over 2 million views per video on its YouTube channel.
Views on the videos, which are often of drink recipes that use RumChata, now total 30 million, roughly 8 million more than its closest rival, Maas said.
Part of Maas’ strategy is directly engaging with customers that reach out to his company through social media. He said that when he discovered Facebook and made a page for his brand, he immediately started connecting with people who liked his brand.
“We understand social media. And understanding social media is you don’t buy likes,” Maas told Cramer. “You can’t pay somebody to say, ‘Click a little button.’ We try to get engagement. We talk to the millennial consumer. That’s what they want. They don’t want to be marketed to. They want to feel part of the marketing.”
Maas said that millennial consumers in particular are contributing to the continual success of the liquor business.
“Liquor business is very, very healthy right now, the spirits business,” he said. “Consumers, especially millennial consumers, they want quality and they’re willing to pay for it.’
Over 1 million bottles of FrappaChata, the newest RumChata product with iced coffee, were sold in 60 days when it released. And while those sales accounted for the mini, $1.99 bottles of the drink, Maas said the brand’s full-sized bottles are also drawing buyers.
“RumChata is not cheap. [It’s] $19.99 a bottle. I mean, there are cream [liqueurs] out there for $12.99 that can’t sell. But we have real cream in the bottle, real rum, real sugar, real cinnamon. We put real ingredients in, consumers say, ‘Hey, it tastes good. I’m willing to spend the money for it,'” Maas said.
And despite the thesis that millennials are more likely to stay at home, Maas said that not only are they going out, but they’re spending more than ever on libations.
“They probably drink higher priced than we’ve ever seen out. They’re buying $40 and $50 bottles of whiskey. Ten years ago, nothing was over $20,” said Maas, who spent 16 years working for Jim Beam. “But it’s wonderful because, for years, the American whiskey market has had phenomenal products and the foreign whiskey markets have gotten the higher prices and all the panache. Now, people are discovering that American whiskey and American spirits are really, really good, and that’s what’s driving it. And it’s quality products with a premium price.”