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Absolut: Vodka must ‘maintain relevance’

The vodka category faces the key challenge of “maintaining relevance” as the leading white spirits choice for consumers as drinkers explore other categories, an Absolut executive has said.

Absolut Vanilla Vodka
Absolut Vanilia is bottled at 38% ABV after the brand lowered ABVs for some of its range earlier this year

Quentin Meurisse, vice-president of business acceleration and planning, commercial and marketing for The Absolut Company, said the vodka category faces a key challenge of maintaining consumers as they look to categories such as gin and Tequila.

“The vodka category was the largest white spirits category worldwide in 2021 and the category is still growing and becoming more globalised every year,” he said.

Meurisse notes that the spirits sector, and vodka in particular, is “still experiencing ‘revenge conviviality’ – a boost recovery from Covid where consumers long for socialising and enjoying drinks”.

He added: “The cocktail trend continues to boom and the vodka category is benefiting from this in terms of flavoured vodka growth, as well as cocktail mixing with regular/non-flavoured.”

Vodka is at the forefront of cocktail making due to its versatility, he said.

“We also see how RTDs have become the fastest-growing segment within beverages, spearheaded by the vodka category,” Meurisse noted.

‘Record year’ for Absolut

Absolut Vodka also experienced a “record year” in the last fiscal year (July 2021 to June 2022) with the brand surpassing 12 million cases for the first time, Meurisse said. “Absolut’s strong growth is broad-based and the brand is gaining scale in many markets.”

He attributed the brand’s performance to emerging markets where it has “accelerated growth”.

“In key markets in both Asia and Latin America we are expanding as markets enjoy post-pandemic re-openings, with notably strong performances in key markets like Brazil and India,” Meurisse said.

“European markets are core growth drivers with a strong and diversified performance, re-enforcing Absolut’s position as a leading spirits brand in the region. Further, tourism-oriented economies like Spain that are now opening up are contributing to the growth, joining strong market performers such as Germany, France, the UK and Poland.”

Absolut also remains the second biggest premium vodka brand in the US, he noted.

Meurisse anticipates more collaborations with celebrities and influencers in the category in the future, similar to the Tequila industry in recent years.

Earlier this year, the Pernod Ricard-owned brand revamped some of its Absolut flavours with lower-ABV strengths.

Looking to 2023, Meurisse said the company will focus on its flavoured range, which is “well positioned to benefit from the cocktail boom”, and continue its deployment of the brand’s global platform, Born to Mix.

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