These consumers are less likely to be
lured out of their way to save a few dol-
lars, so De Abreu has a strategy to boost
sales, one that appeals to their conspicuous
consumption and self esteem: a promotion
of two large 1.75L bottles of Grey Goose
for $99. “We run that sale every three or
four months. It’s an enticing deal because
it does save the consumer money, around
$15, but it does not treat them like bargain
shoppers,” he says.
As a relatively new retailer, open just
two years, Global Liquors offers about 40-
50 unflavored vodkas, focused on those
with established popularity and broad
branding efforts. The old selling points
about filtering, origin and base ingredients
are merely trivia. “The educated client that
cares how vodka is filtered and distilled,
whether it is it from rye, potatoes, grain
or grapes, is a small minority. We are a
nightclub culture. It’s about the name,
about appearances,” says De Abreu, noting
that Cîroc, with the investment of P. Did-
dy, and Pitbull’s participation with Voli,
have helped to bring these brands into
the clubbing circle.
In Pennsylvania, the state often hosts
celebrities in-store for signings and tast-
ings, and Jim Short has observed mixed
results. Dan Aykroyd draws the most when
he comes, and his Crystal Head sells well.
Ditto Bethenny Frankel of Skinnygirl.
With a mantra to persuade people to
“drink better,” Nick Conti, assembles
an interesting selection of vodkas for
his website and his
partnership in two Connecticut retail
locations by focusing on intrinsics that
matter to modern consumers. “I think
10 years ago people were very brand loyal,
including vodka drinkers, but that has
disappeared for several reasons. One,
flavors drove people to try other brands,
and also smaller brands are speaking to
people and communicating a story,” says
Conti. “There is a shift away from loyalty
across the board.”
The organic status of Square One
Vodka, and local, artisanal nature of Tito’s
are stories that consumers relate to and re-
member, according to Conti. “I follow the
consumers, and they are telling me they
like brands with a personal touch,” he says.
Other vodkas that successfully sell organic
include Rain, Purus and Crop.
A surprise success for Conti, Froggy B.
Vodka takes a page from the political play-
book by adopting the opponent’s platform:
Froggy B. is a French vodka, produced from
wheat and distilled in Cognac. With brand
intrinsics closely aligned to some higher-
priced brands, many drinkers have proved
willing to leave the premium price and
the pretense behind, making it a breakout
brand, notes Conti.
While value brands have benefitted from
the recession years, the recently resurgent
stock market bodes well for the renewal of
luxury. For 2012, super-premium brands
again lead vodka category growth, increas-
ing 10% by volume. At Ludwig’s Fine Wine
& Spirits in Marin County, CA, Magid
Nazari has evolved the vodka selection
along with his family’s business, which ca-
ters to affluent residents and connoisseurs
of good living. “Most of these people have
a rather broad but trained palate. They
love great single malt, fine Napa Cab and
the best of everything. It’s not that vodka
is a particular passion, but part of their
lifestyle” says Nazari.
se l ec t i ons
Aiming to reinforce their
appeal with mixologists,
Svedka recently staged
a “Social Mixology: Un-
chained” event showcasing
progressive techniques
including liquid-nitrogen-
frozen herbs, vaporized
cocktails and vodka soda.
Ketel One has maintained
admirable brand loyalty—
something that has become
less common in the value
end of the vodka category.
Small Successes
Top Shelf rising
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