Posted on | November 5, 2013
Written by | Kristen Wolfe Bieler
Most brands on the planet would trade places with Svedka. Since its creation in 1998, the Swedish vodka has has only known steady— often explosive—growth, becoming the second largest imported vodka brand in the U.S. It has universal appeal, with a consumer base split evenly male/female. While many vodka brands rely on flavors for growth, Svedka maintains an enviably strong 80-proof business, with close to 93% of business coming from the unflavored base brand. And the world’s most important vodka market—the U.S.—consumes 90% of Svedka’s 4 million-plus annual cases.
Yet there was one area Svedka hadn’t accessed as well as the brand team at Constellation believed it could: on-premise. As of this summer, that has changed, largely thanks to Svedka’s two new flavor extensions—Orange Cream Pop and Strawberry Colada. “These flavors have been extremely successful in penetrating the on-premise,” shares Diana Pawlik, VP Marketing, Svedka. “Bartenders love the novelty they offer, and have been creating some really fun drinks. They have also served as a portal of entry for the base brand. We weren’t on bartenders’ radar before.”
The marketplace is certainly not short on flavored vodkas, but Svedka’s offerings represent something new. “Like Corona or Malibu we don’t have a seasonal strategy for these flavors and they are selling really well into the fall,” says Pawlik.
Svedka was built on finding holes in the marketplace. “Svedka’s founder saw a white space: There were low-end domestic vodkas, and high-end imported vodkas, but no low-end imported options,” she explains. Svedka was an instant success. It didn’t hurt that everything Swedish is perceived as high-quality, fashionable and pure.
Today, the vodka market is a very different—and much more crowded—place. All the more reason Svedka seeks to stay ahead of the curve with its new package. The new look for the entire flavor line, which debuted in Spring 2013, is sleeker and bolder in color with a metallic silver closure and a transparent view strip on the back. The flavor formulations have also been fine-tuned to deliver richer, brighter taste profiles. Watch for more innovation as well: “We look at what is happening all around us—in gum, yogurt, beverages, at Starbucks—all things with critical consumer appeal,” says Pawlik.
But don’t expect dozens of flavors from Svedka. The brand’s identity remains a high-quality 80-proof vodka that represents tremendous value for the price. “The bottom line for us is that quality equation,” says Pawlik. “Our flavors allow us to have a fuller conversation with our customers now, but our reputation is based on our 80-proof vodka.”
The brand innovates in non-flavored ways, too: 275,000 cases of July 4th-themed 1.75ml bottles were allocated before being released. “Svedka is all about partying—it’s about being together as a group, which these bottles illustrate,” says Pawlik.
Look also for Svedka’s new advertising campaign which is curiously taglineless. “We wanted to create a vibe through the ads, and leave it up to the viewer what the tagline should be,” Pawlik notes. “The brand conjures Swedish simplicity—‘cheap chic’—and the bottle is the celebrity.”