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Top 5 consumer-ranked spirits brands in the US

The drinks sector is faced with unique challenges in reaching its target audience, balancing strict regulations with fractious consumers. Brand analyst Engagement Labs reveals the top five US spirits brands based on word-of-mouth and social media conversations.

Engagement Labs reveals the top five US spirits brands based on word of mouth and social media

It’s imperative for brands to create powerful campaigns in order to gain the trust of consumers and drive sales – and as such, the global alcoholic drinks industry boasts some of the biggest spenders on marketing and advertising.

To measure the success of this activity, Engagement Labs has ranked leading alcohol brands with its ‘TotalSocial’ tool, which combines online social media results with offline word-of-mouth conversation analytics to create a single performance score.

The score is defined by four key drivers: volume, defined by how much conversation a brand is building both on- and offline; sentiment, defined by how positive the conversation is; brand sharing, defined by how much content is being shared both on- and offline; and influence, i.e. how consumer influencers are engaging with the brand.

The analysis revealed that, as a whole, the alcohol beverage category is made up of so-called whisper brands, which are performing below average both on- and offline. When comparing online to offline, these brands perform slightly better offline, in face-to-face conversations.

“The alcohol beverage industry as a whole is built around a culture of sharing and encourages its customers to engage with others in a social environment—which presents a clear opportunity for brands to engage with its fans and facilitate more meaningful conversations that result in improved s ales and brand recognition,” said Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs.

Click through the following pages to discover Engagement Labs’ top 5 consumer-ranked spirits brands in the US.


Coming in at number 5, vodka brand Absolut stood out due to its “above-average performance” in terms of offline brand sharing. The Pernod Ricard-owned brand lost points for its “extremely low” brand sharing score, however – with Engagement Labs stating that Absolut “struggles” to get consumers to share its social media pages online. Absolut has certainly taken steps to engage consumers online – in recent months the brand has launched a Facebook Messenger bot, and partnered with music site Resident Advisor to host a series of UK club nights, which were streamed live on Facebook.

Grey Goose

At number 4: Grey Goose, which “leads others by a far distance” in terms of its ‘online influence’ performance, according to the analyst. The vodka brand held its “largest ever” campaign at Terminal 1 Concourse D throughout December and January in partnership with Dubai Duty Free, featuring multi-media messaging and an interactive Grey Goose zone, and in February partnered with five leading bartenders to create the Grey Goose 2017 Film Awards Season Cocktail Collection, which were served at the BAFTAs – no doubt bolstering influencer appeal.


Bacardi ranked in the top three spirits brands, boasting an “above-average score” for online influencer engagement. This can likely be attributed to its collaboration with music trio Major Lazer for its ongoing ‘The Sound of Rum’ campaign, which includes multimedia events and experiences, music offerings and the launch of a special edition rum. The brand has also enlisted Grammy award-winning music producer Swizz Beatz as its global chief creative for culture under a multi-year agreement. However according to Engagement Labs, Bacardi was held back from securing a higher spot by its low offline brand sharing score.


Diageo-owned vodka brand Smirnoff has secured second place in the rankings, recently having unveiled a global campaign aimed at doubling the number of female headliners in electronic music by 2020, called Equalising Music. Where some brands shy away from social justice movements, Smirnoff embraces them; just last month launching a limited edition bottle design in celebration of “inclusivity, acceptance and love in all its forms” featuring a bespoke LGBTQ Smirnoff logo. Other topical activity includes the Exclusively for Everybody campaign, which promotes the idea that “good times are more fun when everyone is included”, and the Smirnoff Sound Collective, which brings music fans and artists closer together and supports up-and-coming musical talent.

Jack Daniel’s

Taking the top spot is Tennessee whiskey brand Jack Daniel’s. The  brand “stands out well above the other brands in terms of its performance for offline sentiment, offline influence and online brand sharing”, according to the analyst. Its performance was found to be “generally better in offline or word of mouth conversations” compared to across social media. Owned by Brown-Forman, Jack Daniel’s marked its 150th anniversary in 2016 with an “engaging” marketing campaign, lining up a series of events and activities that included a renovation of its Lynchburg distillery and the release of special edition bottles. Part of the campaign included pop-up distillery experiences, which Engagement Labs says “further encouraged fans to partake in an authentic conversation about its tradition and heritage”.

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