Mintel predicts that sales of the white spirit are set to reach £2 billion by 2013.
Over the last five years, sales of vodka have grown by 23% in volume to reach 79 million litres in 2008. Meanwhile, value sales have risen by as much as 20%, reaching almost £1.9 billion in 2008.
The research revealed that more than a third (35%) of Britain's drinkers enjoy a glass of vodka. Last year the market for gin was valued at £666 million, sales having grown just 2% over the same 5 year period. Overall, the market for all alcoholic drinks grew just 3.5% between 2003 and 2008, while sales of spirits slumped 7.6% over the same 5 year period.
Michelle Strutton, senior consumer analyst, said: "Vodka leads spirit sales and growth in the UK, pushing aside the recession and overall falling alcohol consumption.
“Strong appeal among young drinkers and both budget and premium growth is keeping the category buoyant during the economic downturn. Vodka has done particularly well at keeping the category contemporary and exciting.
“Whilst gin, its closest white spirit competitor, has introduced few new products in the past few years, there has been a flurry of activity from vodka manufacturers."
According to Mintel, almost a quarter of 18-24-year-olds drink vodka and they are most likely to drink cocktails and also flavoured neat vodka. One in ten of these younger drinkers believe that high alcohol content is the sign of good quality vodka, they are also prepared to pay more for premium vodka.
Premiumisation has boosted vodka sales in more recent years, albeit from a lower volume base. Although only accounting for around 5% of the total market by volume, sales of premium vodka (£15-£24.99 per 70cl), including flavoured, has grown by as much as 40% in the last 2 years alone. Flavoured vodka makes up a fifth of premium sales, while super- and ultra-premium vodka (£25+) represents less than 1% of the total market, appealing to connoisseurs and ‘bling’ culture.
"As vodka has moved upmarket, a shift, albeit niche, has occurred from consumption via shots or with mixers such as coke or Red Bull to more sophisticated cocktails and long serves." adds Strutton.