Vodka focus: Premium players

Related tags Vodka Stolichnaya Uk

Paul Walsh, chief executive of Diageo, was quoted in The Times newspaper earlier this month suggesting that premium spirits brands would be unlikely...

Paul Walsh, chief executive of Diageo, was quoted in The Times newspaper earlier this month suggesting that premium spirits brands would be unlikely to suffer any fall-out from any potential economic downturn - and indeed that it would be low-quality brands that would feel the pinch.

"Whatever you think about it, there are plenty of consumers who have disposable income and who are largely unaffected by what's happening," he said.

It is, perhaps, no surprise then to see a number of vodka brand owners taking the high road to premium - either sticking with what they have or buying brands that are top end.Walsh's company is certainly pursuing the premium strategy when it comes to vodka.

As well as its recent purchase of Ketel One it has just unveiled a new look for its Smirnoff Black brand - highlighting the "small batch" labelling more prominently in order to push its premium credentials.

Here are some other examples of brand activity in the last 12 months…Gone premium: Global Brands

It would certainly be fair to say that GBL's portfolio of spirits brands has been at the standard end of the market - with VK vodka and Corky's flavoured vodka shots being two examples.However, the company has made a clear strategic move to the premium end of the market through two new acquisitions as Jenny Allaway, head of retail, explains: "Drinkers definitely want to see more choice in bars. There is now also a place for vodka brands that can offer consumers something a little bit different.

"To put this in context, since 2004 almost 600,000 people have migrated to the UK, from the EU, and 500,000 of them are from Poland - creating a market for Polish products. "So there is definitely consumer demand for Eastern European brands. But it's not just migrants but also UK consumers looking for something different. We realised the opportunity to grow our market share in this area through developing our portfolio to reflect this trend.

"We launched Sobieski - a single rye vodka of the highest quality, harvested in the Polish Galacia region - in the UK last year and it has experienced strong growth, particularly among the Polish community."

And Global has just launched Danzka, a premium vodka from Denmark. The company has acquired the full range, comprising Danzka pure vodka as well as four other flavoured brands, which have a hint of citrus fruit, grapefruit, blackcurrant and cranberry and raspberry - all with an ABV of 40 per cent.

Sticking with premium: Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard has one of the stronger portfolios of premium vodkas, which includes its two star performers:

• Stolichnaya is the number one premium vodka in the on-trade, according to Nielsen statistics and is growing at 17.9 per cent year-on-year.

• The same figures show that Wyborowa is the best-selling Polish vodka in the UK with 55.9 per cent volume growth and a strong rate of purchase in the on-trade.Here the company outlines its brand plans for its two premium stars:


New award-winning point-of-sale (PoS) material has been launched into the on-trade in order to increase the prominence of Stolichnaya, designed in keeping with the style of the 'Choose Authenticity' global advertising campaign.

This year the brand will be continuing with its £1m cinema advertising campaign.

Stolichnaya partnered with the Kaiser Chiefs last summer, offering target consumers the opportunity to win tickets to an intimate gig in Ibiza through the brand's 'Rock-it to Ibiza' online viral activity.Wyborowa


Wyborowa has a strong focus on the prestige sector in line with Pernod's premiumisation strategy. Marketing activity will include tactical print advertising in titles such as Wallpaper and The Economist.

New on-trade PoS materials have been launched including key service and visibility tools, offering the best service tools for bartenders with a professional bartender kitLaunch of a new global website which develops a distinct personality for the brand around the concept of putting the 'w' back into vodka - or wodka.

Related topics Spirits & Cocktails

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