Vodka – the white magic within white spirits - has consistently driven category sales, writes Gillian Hamill.
15 September 2010
At a glance: VODKA
- Absolut Vodka is the fourth best selling premium spirit worldwide, and the number one brand of premium vodka worldwide (IWSR/Pernod Ricard Segmentation 2009)
- Russian Standard Vodka is Russia’s number one premium vodka
- Russian Standard Vodka is the world’s fastest growing vodka, and the UK’s number two premium vodka
- Russian Standard Vodka was ranked 42nd on the “Top 100 Premium Spirits Brands Worldwide” list in 2009 by Impact magazine
- Russian Standard Vodka sold 2.2 million 9L cases globally in 2009, marking a 5% climb from 2008
- Eristoff Vodka won the Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2008, and the Silver Medal at the ISWC for three consecutive years
- Smirnoff vodka is the world’s number one premium spirit (IWSR Elite Brands List, September 2009 and Impact Databank Top 100 by volume, February 2010)
- Smirnoff vodka is Ireland’s number one vodka brand (IWSR Elite Brands List, September 2009)
Vodka remains the leading tipple in Ireland in terms of volume and alone covers 41% of the market. A VinExpo/ISWR study forecast that between 2008 and 2012, vodka consumption would grow by almost a further 17%, while on average in Ireland, the consumption of all spirits would grow by 11%.
However according to Lorcan Bannon, brand manager for vodka at Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard; even vodka, which he describes as “the driving force behind the performance of white spirits over the last decade,” has experienced some level of decline. Yet the good news, he adds, is that Nielsen figures now show signs of a return to growth within the white spirits category; a trend that he and many industry insiders are hopeful will continue.
Absolut Vodka is premium vodka from Sweden. It was first introduced in 1879 by Lars Olsson Smith, the man whose face appears on each bottle of Absolut Vodka. Today, it is the fourth best selling premium spirit worldwide, the number one brand of premium vodka worldwide (IWSR/Pernod Ricard Segmentation 2009) and it is available in 126 markets worldwide.
The natural hearty taste of Absolut embodies what vodka is supposed to be – a spirit that is smooth but still accentuates any cocktail without disappearing into the mixer.
In Ireland, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard continue to develop the awareness of Absolut Vodka through an extensive sponsorship campaign including the sponsorship of the Visual Arts Programme at Galway Arts Festival and the Absolut Fringe in Dublin. These sponsorships strengthen the brand’s long established creative heritage and are activated through the line. This year’s Absolut Fringe runs from 11 – 26 September and will be supported by a strong 360 degree marketing campaign, including both the on and off trade channels. For further information on the Absolut Fringe, visit www.facebook.com/absolut.ireland or www.fringefest.com
Squaring up to sales
Red Square Vodka says it doesn’t make any outlandish claims because it doesn’t need to. It’s a premium vodka that’s great either on its own with ice or as a mixer to create a favourite cocktail.
Red Square Vodka is triple distilled because the brand believes three times is enough to create a pure product. It is also carbon filtered because this makes the product more pure and smooth. Furthermore, Red Square Vodka believes that not only does its vodka offer great taste, beating key competitors in taste tests; it gives outstanding margin delivery whilst offering great value to the consumer. The premium bottle design and classic imagery of Red Square gives it great presence on shelf making it stand out from the rest.
Heavily supported with a wide range of point of sale items and promotional activity, Red Square Vodka is a key brand for United Wine Merchants. For more information on Red Square and how it can help boost sales in-store, please contact United Wine Merchants on 048 38316555 or see the website www.unitedwines.co.uk
From Russia with love
Russian Standard Vodka is Russia’s number one premium vodka. Recognised as the world’s fastest growing vodka, and the UK’s number two premium vodka, Russian Standard Vodka is exported to over 75 countries, making it the global leader in authentic Russian premium vodka.
Russian Standard Vodka, has been ranked 42nd on the “Top 100 Premium Spirits Brands Worldwide” list in 2009 by Impact magazine, a leading source for sales data on the global alcoholic beverage industry. Russian Standard Vodka sold 2.2 million 9L cases globally in 2009, marking a 5% climb from 2008. This is the fifth consecutive year Russian Standard has been recognised by Impact. Russian Standard was ranked 44th for 2008 and 52nd for 2007.
Russian Standard Vodka is exclusively distilled and bottled in St Petersburg, Russia, using the most advanced distillation technology and only the finest Russian ingredients; wheat from Russia’s southern steppes and softest glacial waters from Russia’s frozen north.
In 1894, Professor Dmitri Mendeleev – founder of the Periodic Table of Elements – created the official formula for vodka. Mendeleev’s perfect formula was decreed by Tsar Alexander III as the absolute mark of authenticity for vodka production of the highest standard. Today, Russian Standard Vodka has perfected Mendeleev’s vision with the world’s best tasting vodkas.
Russian Standard Vodka is now distributed in Ireland by Richmond Marketing, and is available in 1L, 700ml, 500ml and 350ml sizes.
Setting a gold standard
Eristoff vodka is one of the fastest growing standard premium vodka brands in the world. It was judged winner of the Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2008, and the Silver Medal at the ISWC for three consecutive years.
Eristoff is proud of its Russian heritage. Originating from Georgia, Eristoff vodka is an authentic recipe created in 1806 by the Eristoff family. It is made from 100% pure grain, triple distilled which is true to the tradition established in 18th century Russia and charcoal filtered for absolute purity.
Today the popularity of Eristoff has spread across Europe and beyond. Whether it’s being enjoyed neat, with a mixer or in cocktails, Eristoff believes it is giving countries around the world the taste for ‘the land of the wolf,’ and is now making its way across Ireland.
Eristoff Vodka and Eristoff Black (wild berry flavour) is distributed in Ireland by Edward Dillon & Co Ltd. Contact your local rep for pricing and current deals.
The world’s number one premium spirit* Smirnoff vodka, launched Smirnoff Flavours in July which feature Smirnoff Lime and Smirnoff Green Apple flavoured vodka. Both are perfect mixed with cola or lemonade and their launch coincides with the height of summer trade.
The launch also follows successful roll outs in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. It is being supported by a considerable through-the-line activation and a heavyweight sampling campaign, making sure that consumers are aware of the fantastic new innovation from Ireland’s number one vodka brand (IWSR Elite Brands List, September 2009).
*According to the IWSR Elite Brands List (September 2009) and Impact Databank Top 100 by volume (February 2010), which show Smirnoff vodka at the number one spot and the global volume leader.
Lorcan Bannon, brand manager – vodka, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard
What is the market like for white spirits at the moment? Has it been negatively affected over the past few years?
Trading conditions over the last few years have been quite challenging to say the least. Even vodka, the driving force behind the performance of white spirits over the last decade, has experienced some level of decline. Having said that, according to the latest Nielsen figures, the last year has shown signs of a return to growth within the white spirits category, a trend that we hope will continue. From an Absolut Vodka point of view, the brand’s good performance in the off-trade has benefited from the launch and investment behind the smaller Absolut SKUs (200ml and 350ml), particularly in convenience stores. Undoubtedly, the sales of these smaller SKUs have been enhanced by changing trends such as home entertaining and we are also aware that consumers are purchasing these smaller sizes as an affordable way to embrace the Absolut brand.
How would you describe this brand and what is your target market?
Absolut Vodka is a premium Swedish vodka that can be described as being innovative and creative not only in terms of the brand’s communication but also the bottle itself. Absolut’s association with the creative world dates back to 1985 when Andy Warhol wanted to create his impression of the Absolut bottle. This image inspired a series of collaborations between Absolut and the creative community, in which established (and not-so-established) artists were provided with a platform for expression. In relation to target market, we have a very focused strategy in place and activities are targeted towards a specific consumer profile. However, Absolut could be described as an accessible premium vodka that appeals to people on many different levels.
What marketing activity is planned for the next few months?
Since the addition of Absolut to the Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard portfolio in 2008, we have invested strongly in a marketing and commercial strategy that communicates the brand’s strong creative heritage. Through our involvement with festivals like the Galway Arts Festival or Absolut Fringe, which takes place this September, we have been able to communicate Absolut’s core values and personality in a unique and (hopefully!) effective way. Going forward we will continue this strategy, to further establish Absolut Vodka as the number one premium vodka in the Irish market. In addition to the sponsorship activations, I am also looking forward to this year’s Christmas activity, especially the launch of Absolut Glimmer, this year’s limited edition pack. Absolut has elevated the role of packaging to an art form and I am particularly excited to see how consumers react to this year’s offering.
How have the Absolut Flavours been performing in the Irish market?
Absolut Vodka has been a pioneer in establishing the flavoured vodka category internationally. The perception of Absolut as a creative brand is very much strengthened by its innovations within the Absolut Flavours range.
Within an Irish context, we are beginning to see flavoured vodka gaining traction among consumers. In that context, Absolut has tried to make the flavours as accessible as possible through our communications and off-trade support tools. For example we have recently launched the “Find Your Flavour” packs where consumers can trial five different Absolut Flavours before committing to a full bottle purchase. The Absolut Flavours are created to provide the optimum base for developing premium “easy to mix” drinks for consumers to use at home – with that in mind, I am very excited to see how Irish consumers will engage with the Absolut Flavours going forward.