It is no secret that consumers want to know about the story behind what they are eating and drinking and it is no different with vodka.
School of Booze founder Jane Peyton informed delegates at the event today (Wednesday 4 October) at the Oval Space in Bethnal Green, east London, on how to reignite consumer interest in vodka.
She said: “With vodka, the two words often used to describe it are pure and clean. This is also the case with water and therefore, it is not a sexy way to describe it.
“Vodka has a great story to tell, but we just need to be able to tell it. It’s about giving drinkers an experience to put on their Instagram, to show off to their friends.”
Peyton gave top tips on how to tell the narrative of vodka:
- Talk about the tasting notes, how it is made, its provenance, the story of its producer
- Talk about the texture of vodka – it is not just crisp and clean, talk about the smoothness, the creaminess, silkiness, all about the mouthfeel and texture
- Inform drinkers about the vodka’s production methods, was it from a pot still or a column still?
- If there is a sustainability element to the spirit, tell customers about it.
Peyton added: “People want an educational experience and they can’t taste spirits like they can beer and cider before they buy, so tell them about the tasting notes.”
From tales to trends, research company Cardinal director Matthew Coles talked about the patterns that are occurring in vodka at the moment.
He said: “One third of all spirits sold is vodka and there are £1.9bn sales of it in the UK, but it is the premium brands that are driving growth.”
“Vodka doesn’t need to reinvent itself, but there needs to be more interesting things going on. There’s a job to get people engaged and interested.
“We need to play to vodka’s strengths – it is a natural spirit where you can do anything you want with it.
“This is a double-edged sword, but it is the ultimate neutral idea and with vodka there are no rules, so you can do what you like. Forget Tequila, vodka is what makes consumers happy.”
He urged delegates to think about the story behind the products and claimed “brands make connections with consumers more than liquids do”.
Coles also talked about how to ensure vodka drives sales: “If vodka can align itself and quickly adapt to on trend flavours, it can grow from that.”
Wild Knight English Vodka and Nelson’s Gold Caramelised English Vodka Liqueur brand owners Matt and Steph Brown laid out how their sipping vodka, Wild Knight, entered the market.
Matt said: “Our vodka was born on 4 February 2016 and we started with 100 bottles, went out into the on-trade and retail with those bottles.
“We sold them very quickly at a premium price point and found there was an interest in sipping vodkas.”
He outlined how the promiscuous consumer impacted the brand and how the spirit’s branding stands out from its competitors.
“Consumers are more open-minded about something that is a little different. Our goal was to create a really smooth vodka.
“[The branding] gets customer’s attention with its black and white packaging and we also find that because it is not gin, it gets a reaction from drinkers and it sets us apart.”
Future Trends: Spirits was made possible thanks to headline partners Diageo and Schweppes; associate partner Pernod Ricard; and event partners Warner Edwards, Slingsby Gin and Willis Publicity