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Stoli Group USA Plans To Refocus Branding, Streamline Flavor Range In 2014

December 18, 2013

As SPI’s Stolichnaya prepares to officially part ways with U.S. marketer William Grant & Sons on January 1, the brand is gearing up to make major changes stateside. Led by former Bacardi USA president John Esposito, Stolichnaya’s newly-established Stoli Group USA unit is aiming to reinvigorate the storied vodka franchise in the U.S. Earlier this week, Esposito told Shanken News Daily that the company is preparing to revamp Stoli’s marketing strategy, as well as revise the brand’s flavor approach in the coming year.

“We’re going to refocus on our position as a classic,” said Esposito, adding that Stolichnaya’s core offering and quality credentials will move to the forefront of the brand’s messaging. Lori Tieszen, who was appointed senior vice president of marketing for Stoli Group USA in April, is spearheading the brand’s new marketing push. Likewise, following the success of Stoli’s limited edition Elit by Stolichnaya range—which recently launched its New Zealand Edition ($3,000) in the U.S.—the brand plans to continue moving upmarket with new high-end entries currently in the pipeline.

Additionally, Esposito revealed that Stolichnaya will begin to phase out select entries within the brand’s 17-flavor lineup, in response to overcrowding within the vodka category’s flavored segment. Flavor innovation will remain key, however, and Stoli Group USA is currently experimenting with more “grown-up” spins on the current dessert and confectionary flavor trends. “Retailers are still saying yes to flavors, but for every new one, they’re saying, now you have to take another out,” Esposito explained.

After achieving a high of 2.2 million cases in 2007, Stolichnaya experienced steady declines in the U.S. through 2010, when the brand hit 1.8 million nine-liter cases. In more recent years, however, the vodka franchise has demonstrated a modest turnaround, rising 2% to 1.9 million cases in 2012, according to Impact Databank.

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