Vodka Overview

30 August, 2013
Ian Wisniewski

And, as cocktail culture continues to thrive in the US and UK, also developing across Europe and Scandinavia, the prospects for vodka have never looked better.

“The craft cocktail movement has exploded and there’s been an overall elevation of cocktail culture from something that was only done in some of the top bars/restaurants in big cities to places which are more mainstream. 

“As a result, the average bar-goer is expecting more from their cocktail lists and bartenders are able to use new, well-crafted flavours as a ‘tool’ to take a gastronomic approach to cocktail creation,” says Joe McCanta, Grey Goose global ambassador.

As cocktail culture is continually evolving, this also means cocktail trends can have a significant effect on the category. One trend developing over the past few years in the UK and US is a return to classic cocktails. Apart from their status as classics, an additional advantage classic cocktails provide is having a great story, or, more usually, a number of stories, as it’s rare to have definitive evidence stating who, where and when a particular cocktail was created. And great stories are, of course, an effective way of engaging consumers. 

Key among classic cocktails is the Dry Martini. Currently this is far more established in the US compared to the UK and other markets. But that can also mean it has great potential, particularly as the Dry Martini has an amazing status as the ultimate cocktail. 

The key question has been which vodka to use in a Dry Martini, which is a great starting point for a vodka dialogue between a bartender and a customer. But it’s not the only question when ordering this cocktail.    

“The range of vermouths has really grown recently, and matching vermouth to vodka has become a real talking point among bartenders, which is helping to drive interest in the Dry Martini,” says Smith.

   Another recent phenomenon is the growing number of limited editions, whether it’s special packaging or a line extension. And a growing appetite for rarity, among bartenders and aspirational consumers, ensures an ongoing demand for limited editions. 

“Limited editions are an important way to express ourselves, and allow us to specifically target a consumer or trade group. 

“We have a long history of geographical limited editions around the world and over the years we have launched more than 50 limited editions excluding flavours, global initiatives such as Absolut Unique, local city series such as Absolut Moscow and artist collaborations such as Absolut Vodka Blank Edition by Dave Kinsey. This approach enables us to focus on a particular market and collaborate with a local artist who designs the bottle,” says Paul Duffy, chairman and CEO, The Absolut Company.  

The launch of limited-editions provides a series of highlights in the vodka calendar, while also creating a sense of ‘buy now, or regret at leisure.’ Moreover, the launch of each limited edition is followed by a sense of anticipation: what’s coming next and when? 

“I expect more limited editions will come on to the market – it’s a proven success model, it works commercially and gives you a great PR opportunity, but a limited-edition must say something about your brand equity,” says Belvedere’s Smith.

What brands communicate is a vital factor in attracting new recruits and subsequently maintaining their loyalty. And that depends on telling consumers what they want to know and what they’re most going to respond to.





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