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Unlocking new flavours

Joanna Andrews speaks to ShelfLife about the latest flavour in the range, Smirnoff Blueberry, and the responsible promotion of alcohol in society

Mar 14 2012

Joanna Andrews, Western Europe brand manager for Smirnoff Flavours at Diageo

Joanna Andrews, Western Europe brand manager for Smirnoff Flavours at Diageo

How did you come to be in your current position?
I joined Diageo in 2008 as brand manager on Single Malt whisky. From there, I moved to a role leading the launch of Smirnoff Flavours in Britian in 2009. Since September 2011, I've become responsible for Smirnoff Flavours and the Smirnoff Innovation strategy across Western Europe.
Before joining Diageo, I held brand management roles at GSK and Premier Foods, where I started as a graduate trainee.

What percentage of the Irish vodka market does Smirnoff hold? 
Smirnoff has a 58.3% share of the total Island of Ireland (IOI) vodka market.
(Source: MAT Value sales to Jan 2012, Nielsen)

Where did the inspiration come from for the new flavour?
We wanted to increase the range to broaden consumer appeal and help grow flavoured vodka further. Our consumer research in the UK showed Blueberry Smirnoff had very strong appeal to both a male and female audience. Blueberry Smirnoff is unique in the category so we expect to bring in incremental consumers with this launch.

New Smirnoff Blueberry

New Smirnoff Blueberry

What plans do you have for the launch in the Irish market?
We have a very strong launch plan to drive awareness of Blueberry Smirnoff, as well as the existing Green Apple Smirnoff and Lime Smirnoff variants and their simple serves.
We're running an outdoor, press and digital campaign in March including Facebook activity to target our fan base of nearly 100,000 consumers to drive lots of buzz and excitement around the launch. In addition, we have a strong off-trade plan to drive visibility and trial, including gifting 36,000 5cl miniatures of the different Smirnoff Flavours with Smirnoff No. 21 bottles.

How has this new flavour been received in the UK market?
Very positively. Our data in the UK has shown that Blueberry Smirnoff has successfully driven incremental growth of the range, without cannibalising from our existing flavours. It is now the third most popular flavoured vodka in GB, after Lime Smirnoff and Green Apple Smirnoff and is actually delivering a cash ROS even higher than the other two.
We had many positive comments from consumers on Facebook when we launched Blueberry Smirnoff, it seems to be a flavour that has driven a lot of excitement.
(Source: L4W Nielsen GB off-trade Dec 2011)

What is the best way to drink Blueberry Smirnoff?
The key to unlocking the flavoured vodka opportunity is to educate consumers on how to enjoy it as a simple mixed drink that they can easily make at home.
Our recommended perfect serve is with lemonade, which is delicious. It looks fantastic garnished with blueberries, but a wedge of lime also works well.

Which other flavours have been successful for the brand over the past few years? 
Green Apple Smirnoff and Lime Smirnoff have been successful since their introduction in 2010 - they are stocked in more off-trade outlets than Absolut Flavours (Source: Three Month Average, Nielsen, Dec 2011). Smirnoff Flavours have had a higher than average trial and repeat rate than other new alcohol products in the Irish market (Source: ROI - Smirnoff Flavours, 12 Months, Millward Brown, Dec 2011).
Following the success of the three flavours in the UK, we've recently launched Vanilla Smirnoff and the initial consumer and sales results look very positive.
We also continue to keep a close eye on the US market, which has a range of nearly 20 Smirnoff Flavours, as a source of inspiration for future launches in the UK and Ireland.

Who’s your target market?
18-29 year old men and women who are looking for something a little more exciting than their standard spirit and mixer or a refreshing, enjoyable alternative to wine, cider or beer to drink at home.

How do you promote the sensible consumption of alcohol?
As a member of the Irish drinks industry, Diageo supports MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Ireland) and the drinkaware.ie responsible drinking programme. The aim of the drinkaware.ie programme is to promote responsibility when drinking and to challenge anti-social behaviour related to excessive drinking. It addresses all consumers while specifically targeting 18 to 24-year-olds, with a bull’s-eye of 22-year-olds. MEAS believes that the sensible consumption of alcohol is compatible with a healthy lifestyle and works to create an environment conducive to sensible drinking which balances personal responsibility, industry self-regulation and government regulation. 

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