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Master 2 AINI - Université Paris Ouest

Master 2 AINI - Université Paris Ouest
Cours : " International Marketing"

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    Master aini  2010_vodka Master aini 2010_vodka Document Transcript

    • Positioning: vodka brands Razvozzhaeva Elena/Barysevich Olga Master AINI 2009 – 2010 Par
    • CONTENT Introduction 2 I. New trends in vodka positioning today 3 II. Contemporary European vodka drinking culture trends 6 III. Smirnoff’s recent brand evolution 9 IV. Absolut positioning 11 V. Belvedere vodka 13 VI. Grey goose Conclusion 14 Sources 15 Annex 16 Introduction There is no product that does not have a well definite position on the market, as it is essential to be recognized by a certain category of customers due a definite set of values and characteristics. In order to be competitive, this positioning has to be successful due to understanding consumer perceptions, placing a product in the mind of a consumer and designing the appropriate approach. On the example of such vodka brands as Absolut, Smirnoff and Belvédère we will see how vodka brands position themselves on the present-day market and how they differentiate themselves from their competitors, what strategy they use and what explains their success. It should be noted, that it is difficult to communicate on such a product as alcohol drink which demands a high degree of expertise. Besides, the recent changes on global market influence customers’ behavior and deeply transform it. As a result, vodka brands have to rethink their positioning strategies in order to keep their privileged place on this highly competitive market. 2
    • Vodka is an alcoholic beverage which doesn’t have any special taste or particular country origin which would condition its basic ingredients. Indeed, vodka can be based on potatoes as well as on cereals; it can be produced in Russia or Poland or in any other country. Can this shortage in distinctive features and convenience in consumption explain the success of vodka? How is it perceived in different countries of Europe and how do the most popular vodka brands adapt their image to be complied with new trends in vodka positioning today? I. New trends in vodka positioning today If we look at the most important trends in vodka positioning during last five years, we will see 3 main trends: high quality, convenience, and indulgence associated with premiumization and innovative product lines and collection of vodka. 1. According to the statistics, highquality is the most popular product tags in the vodka category. Vodka of high quality includes several ideas: vodka should be upscale, natural, pure and real product, without any artificial additives. Due to this trend vodka now gains its share market, because pure white alcohol is more easily associated with health in consumers’ minds than brandy, liquor or any other colored spirit. Natural means that vodka has to be based only on natural ingredients: where every ingredient is of the best quality or has its own particular origin that adds to differentiate one vodka from another. “Real” also means “based on national tradition of making vodka”. For example, “Russian standard vodka” brand tries to gain new market shares in positioning itself as “real Russian vodka”, based on the standard formulation of vodka, created in 1894 by Dmitri Mendeleev, the famous Russian author of periodic table of chemical elements. The author is the Russian scientist whose competences as chemist are worldwide recognized. Water which is used to make this vodka is “the water from Saint- Petersburg region”, known as one of “the softest in Russia”. According to the owners of the brand, most of vodkas have a particular rough taste that’s why consumers prefer to drink it cold or in cocktails, while “Russian standard vodka” can be drunk directly even if it hasn’t been cooled before and still will be “soft”. The vodka is also based on “noble” type of cereals, the wheat, and it’s distilled seven times which makes it “the purest”. Special form of the bottle was designed to make reference to the past of Russia: it is inspired by the form of the church bell. “Russian Standard” was the first vodka brand to use 3
    • and to promote this form. It underlines once again the particular Russian origin of vodka which adds to its image of a “real” one. All these elements permits to “Russian standard” to be correspond to the high quality trend in new trends of positioning of vodka. 2. Convenience is also a very important trend now. It means that vodka to be competitive has to be quick in consumption and should be able to be serve like an independent drink as well as a base for cocktails. “Russian standard” positions itself as the independent drink, as it was shown above. At the same time, its manufacturers have developed a wide range of cocktails on the basis of this vodka. Receipts can be downloaded by Internet; special books of receipts are supplied to bartenders who are able to follow particular “courses of bartenders” to study the receipts of vodka cocktails and the way to serve them. 3. Vodka in Europe is experiencing a huge surge in Premiumization. On the graph we can see than even if the volume of vodka sales hasn’t change during last five years, its value increases by 10 %. It means that people pay more for vodka, because they buy more premium vodka. Spirits market volume versus value growth, Europe, 2006-2010 4
    • The increasing demand on super-premium brands can be explained by the new trend in vodka positioning: demand for a fashion product of high quality. Vodka is a strong spirit that can affect the human organism in a very dangerous way. Thus, consumers are looking for the visual proofs of its high quality, especially in the most developed of European countries where people have begun to be strongly concerned about their health. The quality represented by new packaging concepts and “improved” formulations of vodka play the role of “health insurance”. Vodka tends to become a fashion, trendy and sometimes even luxurious beverage. The spirit moves from mainstream drinks into a higher-class market are also driven by - Mixologist’s interest in the on-trade, - The rise in ultra-premium products, - Consumer interest in more innovative or unusual varieties of vodka. Vodka is one of the most accepted spirits among young adults of 18 – 24 y.o. The Premiumization is often associated for them with fashion and exclusivity, the values which are more important for younger generations. To satisfy the demand on the innovative product, almost 60 % of all vodka manufacturers change the formulation of vodka: either they add an ingredient to the main formulation; either they change the production process in adding a new distillation cycle. The innovation passes often through new package as well. Just after launching of the “Russian Standard vodka”, the brand launched “Premium Russian Standard vodka” based on “the silver water” and packed in a special transparent bottle. In 2007, to emphasize the accent on the Russian origin of vodka and to play on the well-known facts of Russian history by Europeans, the company launched the super-premium “Russian standard vodka”: “Imperia”. The campaign was accompanied by commercials making references to the Russian noble imperial past and vodka consumption. The company has developed as well its own business model of distribution of vodka: it invests a lot of money in education of “vodka consultants” who know everything about Russian standard vodka and are always able to advice it to clients. It permits to increase vodka sales and to position it on the same level as traditionally more expensive alcohol beverages as whiskey or cognac. Besides, packaging of the premium vodka reminds boxes for whiskey bottles. 5
    • “Russian standard” organizes also “vodka presentations” with degustation. Usually these presentations are made by model-looking girls in costumes which should be associated with Russian winter clothes including fur-caps. “Russian standard” has become one of the popular vodka brands in Western Europe, but it is always considered to be weaker than the leaders in this category: the brand hasn’t created for the moment a strongly recognizable particular story, the imaginary world or community of consumers around its product as it has been done by the biggest vodka brands that will be presented below. First, we will give an overview of the European vodka drinking culture trends. II. Contemporary European vodka drinking culture trends 1. Europeans drink less Europeans put away over nine liters of alcohol a year per person, twice the global average. The European Commission has declared that alcohol is a “key public health and social concern”. Yet in most big EU countries drinking is in decline. In France and Italy the average adult drinks over a third less than he or she did 30 years ago. Germans and Spaniards are drinking out quickly. Alcohol consumption has likewise fallen in most of Eastern Europe in recent decades. The decline in drinking is most marked in southern Europe, where there has been a notable dropping-off in wine-drinking, especially during the working day. In 1980 France, Italy and Spain were the booziest nations in Europe. Among the main reasons are rising numbers of urban workers and the spread of Anglo-Saxon fast-food habits which works against the old traditions of a long lunch fuelled by a bottle. 2. Europeans are drinking differently The habits of Europeans are converging now. The old geography of drinking on the continent, with its well-defined wine, beer and vodka “belts”, slowly gives way to a patchwork quilt. Young people, unshackled by tradition, are leading the charge away from old stereotypes. 6
    • Poles, for example, are these days almost as likely to be found drinking bottles of beer as shots of vodka. Alcohol consumption in Britain rose more or less continuously after 1956 and has leveled off only in the past few years. Poland is the only other country among the ten largest EU members to have seen a rise in alcohol consumption since 1980. Britain has become a land of wine: last year, for the first time, Britain spent more on wine that on beer. This tendency has its reverse side: the shift from beer to wine in Britain may have boosted overall drinking, suggests Rachel Seabrook, research manager at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, a London-based think-tank. Britons may have adopted the alcohol beverages of Southern Europe, but they also retain a fondness for “heavy episodic drinking” (binge drinking). The difference now is that Britons drink 12%-strength wine rather than 4%-strength beer. 3. Place of vodka among other alcohol drinks and drinking cultures in Europe The possibilities of positioning of vodka among other alcohol in Europe depend a lot on national drinking culture. A. European North Traditionally in the European North people prefer spirits with higher degree of alcohol than in the European South. The UK is the biggest spirits market in Europe by value sales but lags behind France, Germany and even Spain by volume. Consumers are simultaneously demanding super- premium brands by name on one hand, and seeking ever cheaper products in supermarkets on the other. After the crisis of 2008, Britons spend more time at home drinking cheap supermarket- bought booze than in the pub buying expensive pints. Bars, pubs and nightclubs with bars are extremely popular in the UK and binge drinking is very common. Vodka is the second spirit by popularity in this country after whiskey. Bars, pubs and nightclubs are the very developed distribution means and the places where young people are more disposed to bingeing quickly to “make fun” than in restaurants and cafes. There is no 7
    • surprise that the most known vodka brands promote their products by organizing “vodka parties” or “vodka sponsored concerts/DJ parties” in bars or nightclubs. In Norway, as well as in Sweden, there is a State Monopoly on the spirits sales and there are a lot of limits for its advertising. One can buy a bottle of vodka only in special State Winemonopoly shops, but these shops are open on weekdays only until 6 pm. So very often, people buy a lot of vodka for the weekend and level of binge drinking on weekends is very high. It is the special feature of vodka consumption in Scandinavian countries. Germany is a country of beer culture, and vodka is popular but its rate is behind liquor, cognac, brandy and rum. In Germany the nightclub culture is very developed, and the vodka distributors use that a lot for vodka promotion parties or for launching new trademarks of vodka. Alcohol consumption in volume here is the highest in Europe, but its role is less important for young adults than in the UK or in France. It means that Germans prefer to save money on vodka and buy more mass-oriented, cheap vodkas than premium ones. B. European South France is the country of cafe and restaurant culture. The role of alcohol is very high here but binge drinking is uncommon. Nightclub culture is far less important than in other European countries. There are some restrictions on spirits advertising here, but nevertheless today this is the most dynamically growing market of vodka. Italy is a country of café and restaurant culture even more than France, a country where people prefer to drink wine more than any other alcohol. The role of alcohol is low (in bars Italians order very often soft drinks). In this context, Italians spend money more on premium alcohol drinks including vodka than on cheap spirit beverages. In Spain young people drink in bars and in homes and now binge drinking and drinking in large groups is very common. Whiskey takes a half of spirits market. Vodka is popular but only as a base for cocktails and alcoholic drinks like Vodka Ices are more popular here than vodka itself. C. Eastern and Central Europe The market of spirits in Eastern and Central Europe is the biggest in the EU. It is characterized by presence of strong domestic spirits companies and distribution by supermarkets because people prefer to drink vodka in families or with friends at home. While 8
    • vodka is regularly consumed with a mixer in Western Europe, in Eastern Europe it has a more traditional image and is often consumed straight. There are some countries where the beer consumption prevails over vodka or spirits one, like in Czech Republic. Vodka has to compete here with herb liquors like Absinthe. And there are some countries like Poland where vodka amounts for 90 % of all spirits and the competition in this category is very high. III. Smirnoff’s recent brand evolution “Smirnoff”is the first vodka brand in the world and for a long time it positioned itself as the purest vodka and the vodka that changes the perception of the world. But if it was enough to be a leader before, to maintain its position, “Smirnoff” has recently decided to change its image integrating the new expectations of its consumers. Target customers of Smirnoff are 18 – 24 y. o. young adults. So, very often Smirnoff sponsors parties and events which are considered to be cool and fashionable among this group of consumers. Among the events Smirnoff often chooses fashion shows of young designers or concerts of underground techno music. Smirnoff supports as well the “Extravaganza parties” of Oxford students. Moreover, it decides to become the creator of “special Smirnoff events” launching new advertisement “BE THERE”. In 2007 it made a new commercial “SEA” that permitted to this vodka brand to be associated with environmental concerns of young adults. Although this commercial cost a fortune to “Smirnoff” and gained several prices for its concept, it didn’t create a strong association between the image of “Smirnoff” and the story described in the commercial. The brand had to rethink its positioning and now it tends to make a community of young, dynamic AND creative young people who like to work and know how to have a rest in a very particular way. The accent is made on the unbelievable, unexpected and inexplicable moments that you have if you organize a party or other cultural/fashionable event and drink Smirnoff. As these parties/events/moments are so particular, they are inexplicable and the only way to understand them is to live them, “BE THERE”. 9
    • “Smirnoff” launches several commercial films about strange but cool, trash and fashionable parties arranged by “us, people who like a lot Smirnoff”. It is an attempt to create a community of young creative “fans of Smirnoff”. On the web site of “Smirnoff” its “fans” can write their ideas of “Smirnoff parties”, create “Smirnoff events” or at least “be there”, participating in these events and living “Smirnoff experience”. In two sentences the credo of “Smirnoff” fans is: “Celebrating life, every day, everywhere, responsibly” with “Smirnoff” which invites them “to be restless, to be inventive, to be extraordinary, to be able to say "I was There." After that, it’s possible to share your emotions with other fans of Smirnoff on its official web site, in Facebook and Twitter. Smirnoff positions itself also as the brand which has the right to offer these “unbelievable, unexpected and inexplicable” moments because its own life (or history) was full of them. The commercial “Be there”, where the main characters are target consumers, is completed by the commercial “Signature”. It represents the “unbelievable and unexpected” turnarounds in vodka history and strengthens its image of “real Russian vodka” with its “toughness and a strong character”. This commercial adds the ideas of an adventure and a dare to the image of “Smirnoff vodka”. The other direction of the development of the brand is the creation of new trademarks, for instance, “Black Smirnoff”. In the period of crisis when people have to be stronger and tougher to get on in life, Smirnoff launches this new vodka for “real men”. The vodka has its strong, dry and sharp taste. Its packaging and commercial is oriented strictly for men. At the same time, vodka positioning in Western Europe is connected with the trend of convenience: Smirnoff vodka is “the most convenient base for cocktails” and distributers have written already several recipe books of vodka cocktails to play on this feature of vodka as beverage which doesn’t have some particular taste and is easy to mix with other beverages. The idea of mixing the vodka creating cocktails is linked by marketing specialists of Smirnoff with DJ concerts: DJs are popular among young people and they MIX and REMIX music as bartenders MIX vodka “Smirnoff”… The variety of vodka flavors is urged to satisfy customers’ demand for the innovation and indulgence. Thus, manufactures launch a line of new flavors of Smirnoff. The most popular flavors in Europe are orange, apple and lime. 10
    • Origin :Seden Distributor :PernodRicard IV. ABSOLUT vodka’s positioning 100 mlns liters sold in 2008 Today Absolut vodka is the third most popular brand in the world famous for its very strong positioning. To make the flavorless and indistinguishable product stand out from the crowd, the company has put a lot of efforts into the right communication of the image of the brand. First of all, the company adopted an unusual ironic “pharmaceutical” bottle to stand out from the crowd and linked it to a special story. Besides, through an original idea of a transparent etiquette the brand managed to convey better its main qualities of purity, transparency and simplicity. Moreover, Absolut started the brilliant advertising campaign, which has become the longest running in history, which helped to shape a distinctive product’s positioning. The Absolut power of advertising is stunning, as it seems to erase borders between communication and art. It managed to inject relevance into each message of its advertisement. It helped to convince the customers to pay more for a product that is not necessarily different from competitors’ products. In the beginning, the brand’s advertising rules were very strict: the bottle had to be always in the center of a campaign, the product not to be associated with any particular lifestyle, use of classic and at the same time modern approach. These campaigns were based on a play of 2 words with a touch of humour.1 The brand also wants to be associated with creativity and modernity, that’s why it has been working with different artists and participating in special events. In 1987 Andy Warhol creates the famous Absolut collection. Absolut also commissioned Lenny Kravitz to compose a piece of music in Absolut style. The result is a track called Breath which can be downloaded for free from Absolut’s website. Absolut also worked together with Keith Haring, Damian Hirst, Versace, Tomm Ford, GallianoAll these collaborations are targeted at positioning as a creative brand. 1 See Annex. 11
    • As for the events, that the brand has been sponsoring, among them we can cite: The Dublin Fringe Festival The Absolut Gay Theatre Festival Galway Arts Festival The aim of such an investment is to show that Absolut is a portal through which its audience is ushered into a more vibrant, creative and inspiring world.2 Change in positioning strategy But recently Absolut had to change its positioning strategy and readapt its advertising campaign in order to reassert its place among numerous upstarts and give a fresh touch to its image. First of all, the brandlaunched a radically new “In an Absolut world” communication campaign in 2007. The spirit tries to move away from its focus on a distinctive bottle shape and premiumness of the product, and begins to convey a new imaginative story. It creates a new concept of an Absolut world where the brand invites its customers and promises a distinctive way of life where reigns a daring and optimistic vision of life. Like that, it is targeting a broader audience and tries to match any personality or lifestyle.“Doing things differently leads to something exceptional” manifesto is in the center of its In an Absolute world campaign.3The main idea is to make customers imagine their proper vision of an Absolut world. The Ads run in magazines and on selected TV channels. One ad depicts police fending off pillow-rioters, another shows Times Square filled with pregnant men and priceless artwork. In Germany, the campaign runs with Porsche taxis. One of the most remarkable is a short film Absolut Hugs, which imagines a world where transactions are paid by an act of kindness instead of currency. In such a way, it offers a new platform for communication where each market can have each proper vision of an ideal world. 2 Absolut sponsors Fringe festival, October 2010. 3 See Annexe. 12
    • Adoption of a large choice of flavors To be in the center of cosmopolite and night life, the brand introduce16 new flavours, like ruby red, berry acai, raspberry, citron, kurant, mandarin, pears, pepper, mango, peach and others. In that way, the brand managed to attract women and younger drinkers. Moreover, it creates a sort of drinks encyclopedia with a large choice of receipts in order to position itself as a cocktail drink to be served in any place. Absolut launched a free iPhone application called Drinkspiration by Absolut. It is a sort of interactive encyclopedia of drinks. It includes 400 drinks. You can choose a drink according to your location, popularity, colour, taste, the sound volume of the place, time of day and much more. You have even the recipe to show to a barman if he does not know the drink you have chosen to order. This drink can even be shared with friends on Facebook or other social networks.What is more, you can even find out what drinks are popular in different places of the world. As a result, the brand have managed to give a fresh touch to its brand and to position itself as an innovative and flexible. Still, it is not ready to give up its image of exclusivity and luxury, and that’s why it creates from time to time special exclusive collections. V. BELVEDERE vodka When Belvedere vodka was launched in 1996, it started an industry revolution. It positioned itself as the first “luxurious vodka” 30 % over Absolut, the highest priced vodka at the time, and it started a remarkable, multi-faceted marketing campaign to shape the top place for the brand. It first of all aimed at creating the so-called “super-premium” brand to distinguish itself from “premium” brands. Due to its possibility to position itself as an innovator and to create new categories within a defined market, it managed to gain a huge success and today it isa regarded as Rolls-Royce of vodkas. 13
    • How has it managed to achieve its successful positioning? The main reason is a well-thought and consistent message it managed to send its audience, which consisted in stating that Belvedere as the hottest new thing. The key of its marketing campaign is luxury and differentiation. It concentrated a lot of efforts on trying to convey the right idea on what Belvedere vodka is and what distinguishes it from main competitors. If we look at the recent advertisement campaign, we see that it wants to position itself as different from other conventional vodkas. Its communication is aimed at conveying a provocative image. It wants its consumers to associate themselves with stars that are present in its advertisement. It offers a vision of life far from old clichés. To do this it uses in its ads such personalities as Vincent Gallo, Terry Richardson who are known for their downtown attitude. VI. GREY GOOSE Grey goose is one more example of vodka that managed to become rapidly a real phenomenon through a very intelligent marketing. It is another premium vodka brand that understood very quickly that in order to be successful today, a vodka brand has to convey a special lifestyle. That’s why Grey Goose has out an accent on being associated with movie stars, fashion icons and other famous people. The brand positions itself as super-premium vodka, aligned with the best tradition of France. It made a very clever use of “world’s best tasting vodka” tagline.In order to attract new drinkers, it set up in-store spectacular shows, presenting the product as a hero. The brand states that its product can be drunk pure or in many different cocktails, which proves once again the desire to correspond to the needs of present day consumers. 14
    • Conclusion On the vodka market it is difficult to differentiate itself from main competitors just attracting attention to the product’s quality. Vodka is the ultimate commodity and it is incredible how most successful vodka brands today manage to create an particular atmosphere through a definite lifestyle around their product.They are a success today because they understood that positioning comes mostly through communication of a certain universe. Thus, the most popular vodka brands try not only to promote the product, but to create a “world”, a “history” of this product, create a community around the image of vodka. They sponsor events popular among young adults, target customers of spirits. The most known brands have a very strong image positioning and try to modify it according to the new demand of their clients. They take into account all recent trends in vodka positioning like premiumization, convenience, high quality and indulgence. Every vodka brand tries to adapt these concepts and it’s only its image that differs: Smirnoff – dynamic, tough and real; Absolute – premium, ironic, mature; Belvedere – chic, trash and luxurious, etc. 15
    • Sources LEWIS Richard W., “Absolut Book”, Journeyeditions, Singapore, 1996. Capell Kerry,“Absolut Makeover”,BusinessWeek Online, 1/17/2006. Darling John R., “Successful competitive positioning: the key for entry into the European consumer market”, in European Business Reviw, Vol. 13, N° 4, pp. 209-220. EVALUSERVE, “The Alcoholic Drinks Market Outlook. New opportunities in beer, cider, wine, spirits and FABs”, 2003. Gavin Humphries, “Fighting the Market Slowdown in Alcoholic Drinks. Growth hotspots, innovation and changing consumer preferences”. 2009. Gavin Humphries, “Future Trends in Beer and Wine. Emerging markets, private label and innovation”, 2008. Kiley David, “An Absolut Marketing Dream”, BusinessWeek Online, 4/1/2008. Lewis, Helen, “The Future of Spirits. The Innovative response to private label threats and market slowdown”, 2008. Mullman, Jeremy, “BREAKING WITH BOTTLE FIRES UP ABSOLUT SALES”, Advertising Age, 2/18/2008, Vol. 79. Pitilla Mary J., Grey Goose soars into super-premium fight, Brand Showcase, oct/nov 2006 WANG Jennifer, “10 brilliant marketing ideas”, Entrepreneur, February 2010. Absolut sponsors Fringe festival, October 2010. “Smirnoff drops „purity‟ strategy for social push”, Marketingmagazine.co.uk, 1 July 2009. “The Top 10 Spirits Companies. Industry trends and growth strategies of leading players”, 2009. “Vodka, superstar des bars”, in BARMAG, Jul/août 2008. Internet: www.absolut.com www.belvederevodka.com www.smirnoff.com www.greygoose.com 16
    • ANNEXE I. ANNEXE II. 17
    • ANNEXE III. Absolut advertising campaign (80s) ANNEXE IV. Absolut vodka’s new advertisement campaign 18
    • ANNEXE V. Communication campaign of Belvedere 19
    • 20
    • ANNEXE VI: ”Smirnoff Black”: vodka for men + Russian “real” origin BE THERE: Beach party in the city ”BE THERE” party and Smirnoff flavors 21