Five brands have managed to earn the title of Elite Brand every year since the first list published in 2007 – Jägermeister, Finlandia, Havana Club, Jameson and Buchanan’s.
The consistent top four Elite Brands – Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Absolut and Jack Daniel’s – all fell from the list in 2010 due to the effects of the global economic crisis.
Vodka has the most entrants on the list – a total of four out of 10.
This year’s Elite Brands top spot goes to Nemiroff, which, according to IWSR, has maintained strong growth in its top two markets – Russia and Ukraine.
A statement from IWSR said: “Despite a presence in over 32 countries, Nemiroff is one of the most geographically concentrated brands on the list; 92% of volume consumed in its top two markets. Nemiroff first entered the list in 2008 and maintained the number five spot until climbing to number one in 2010.”
Finlandia, Sobieski and Russian Standard also made the list, with Russian Standard being the only newcomer to this year’s Elite Brands. The success of these four brands shows the continuing popularity of vodka, which has allowed them to expand in export markets.
Russian Standard was ineligible last year as 65% of its volume was consumed in its home market of Russia, but Russia now accounts for just 49.1% of global sales. Russian Standard ended the year just 21,000 cases down on 2009 volumes. Despite this year’s dip Russian Standard has an impressive five-year CAGR of +11.9%.
Brown-Forman’s Finlandia is on the list for the fourth consecutive year, showing the long-term potential of the brand. Despite the brand losing nearly 35,000 nine-litre cases in 2009, the brand’s long-term growth has ensured that it has maintained an impressive CAGR of over +10% over the last five years.
Sobieski, owned by Belvédère, was one of the few brands to exhibit growth in 2009, but it also managed to extend its international reach. The success of Sobieski despite significant losses in its traditional markets of Poland and Lithuania highlights why extensive international reach is so important. Sobieski offset the losses at home with gains of over +129% (330,000 cases) in the US and +39.6% (63,000 cases) in France. Sobieski first appeared on the list in 2009.
Only two Scotch whiskies made the list – William Lawson’s and Buchanan’s, the only brands from Bacardi-Martini and Diageo on the list. Buchanan’s has featured on the list since it began in 2007; William Lawson’s entered the list in 2008.
William Lawson’s, positioned as a value Scotch in many of its main markets, saw an increase in sales of 133,000 cases, growing in all of its top 10 markets; the largest gains were in France and Russia. William Lawson’s achieved the second-highest growth in the list after Nemiroff.
Buchanan’s showed the largest decline of the 10 current Elite Brands, but it remains on the list due to its impressive growth between 2004 and 2008, giving it a five-year CAGR of over +7%.
Jägermeister comes in at number two, moving up from sixth position. It has featured in the list since the beginning and although sales fell in 2009, its five-year CAGR is over +7%.
Pernod Ricard-owned Havana Club comes in at number three despite a global decline of -3.4%. Barceló is the only other rum on the list. Re-launched in 2006, Barceló has been gaining strength and grew by over 85,000 cases in 2009. Barceló has the highest CAGR on the list: +16.9%.
As the only company to have more than one brand on this year’s list, Pernod Ricard’s other entrant Jameson stays on the list for yet another year and was one of just five of the Elite Brands to see volume growth in 2009.
A notable absence from the list is the previous number one Elite Brand, Smirnoff, which failed to consolidate its recent success in markets such as India, Poland and Spain and witnessed huge losses in travel retail. The brand has a five-year CAGR of +4.5%
Absolut has also fallen from the list after a heavy drop in sales in the US and travel retail, as well as further declines in key markets such as Mexico, Germany, Spain and Greece, leaving it with a five-year CAGR of +4.4%.
Bacardi-Martini lost two brands from the list. Eristoff failed to surpass the requisite five-year growth threshold of 5% despite some positive activity in France, Belgium, Brazil and Australia.
After years of defying the global trend of declining gin sales, Bombay Sapphire, the only gin on the 2009 list, missed out on the 2010 list as its five-year CAGR dropped to +4.2% after a decline in global sales of 3,950 cases.
The criteria required to become an Elite Brand remain unchanged since 2007. Brands must sell over 1m cases worldwide, with at least 40% of sales outside their main market to demonstrate international presence, and also maintain a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of at least 5% for the last five years of growth – i.e. 2004 -2009 – to demonstrate sustained growth.