4 minute read.
Since joining Hunter in Summer 2017, Sharon’s hard work is gathering rapid momentum. We were lucky to get a clear hour in her diary at Harpenden Hall, before she returned to Scotland. Sharon works with Hunter’s spirits clients, bringing many years of experience in the luxury spirits industry to lead new packaging development projects.
Sharon began her journey as a compositor in the print industry, before making the move to Allied Distillers as Digital Graphics Technician leading the transition of print assets to digital for a number of global brands. Moving on to the Edrington Group is where Sharon really established her credentials, with some of the pinnacle brands in Scottish Whisky and the globally distinguished Macallan. Sharon oversaw many famous projects, including the Sir Peter Blake Collection and the Annie Leibovitz Masters of Photography Edition. While working at Whyte & Mackay Sharon oversaw the £1M Patterson Collection. Sharon also headed up NPD for C&C Magners before joining Hunter.
Sharon works from the Scottish Hunter office, close to the shores of Loch Lomond, with weekly planning meetings at Hunter’s Harpenden HQ.
What attracted you to joining Hunter as head of NPD for Spirits?
Scottish Whisky is a people’s industry and I wanted a role where I could use my profile to work deeper into the industry to make new connections and work on some really innovative projects. It’s precisely what Hunter were looking for.
What did you know about Hunter before you joined?
Hunter had a growing profile in the spirits industry and they have a deep understanding of luxury and the awards to prove it. They understand its essence with the right technical skills to make it happen. It was an easy decision to join.
What’s unique about the NPD offer you’re building at Hunter?
It’s about the technical NPD and how our value engineering and cost management makes creative ideas deliverable. Clients can bring Hunter into projects much earlier in the development curve. We can work with a strategic plan and build around that. A client can give us the product story, the target audience, the pricing strategy and we can create packaging solutions which cover the strategy, as well as the technical production challenges, logistics, security, weight and retail conditions. In fact, we know where the weak points are and by working with clients to manage those, we develop a much stronger and more positive outcome.
How does Hunter build a creative offer for clients with extraordinary brands?
Hunter carries strong creative credentials and uses a number of tools to find more creative outcomes. I guess a good example is our Inspiration Sessions; where we bring in both client and Hunter team members for joint ideation sessions, exploring every detail of the project and how we can point it back to the brand essence.
How do you intend to grow Hunter’s profile?
Hunter’s ability to contribute to creative briefs and execute with a luxury product is proving compelling to brands and helps drive discussions. I live within a 30 minute radius of many of the key decision makers in the industry. They can get on the phone and I’m in a meeting within the hour. It’s a sociable industry and it thrives on knowing who you are. People know the depth of our technical packaging expertise and can call on it quickly. It’s the perfect place to be.
How healthy is the luxury spirits (Whisky) market right now?
Unbelievably healthy. Sure, there’s some hype around at the moment, what with the sale of those rare Macallan 1926’s for over a million in Dubai last month. Whilst there’s a lot of investment money coming in, there’s also a shift in provenance and sustainability, which makes it really interesting. Whilst we’ve experienced the bling years with mirrors and piano boxes, the shift to craft, sustainability and character is only going to grow. There will be some challenges in Russia and Asia, where glamour still drives sales, but perhaps we’ll see brands moving in different directions at the same time to bring the younger customers into the market.
What does 2019 look like for Hunter?
It could be big. I mean really big in terms of brave thinking and the ability to get real innovation moving. I’m genuinely excited.