As Competition Intensifies, Grey Goose Looks To Reignite GrowthMay 15, 2014
Long one of the drinks industry’s most revered brands, Bacardi Ltd.’s Grey Goose has seen growth slow in recent years, and the upscale vodka label is now confronting perhaps its staunchest challenges to date in the form of intensifying competition in the vodka category and consumers’ tilt toward brown spirits.
After acquiring Grey Goose from Sidney Frank Importing Co. for $2 billion in 2004, Bacardi added nearly 1.5 million cases to the brand’s total from 2005-2009, according to Impact Databank. Since then, however, Grey Goose has struggled to post consistent upward progress. It saw modest advances in the U.S. in 2011 and 2012, but slipped 2% last year to 3.38 million cases. By contrast, the overall imported vodka market in the U.S. added 7 million cases to its total on growth of around 35% from 2009-2013.
“The competitive landscape is certainly growing, with new entrants and existing brands expanding their offerings,” says Grey Goose brand director Michelle Beauchamp, acknowledging the tough market conditions. Still, “One of best measures of brand health is the on-premise,” she points out, and Grey Goose “remains the most called for and most recommended brand” in that segment.
This year, Bacardi is looking to increase Grey Goose’s momentum with its recently launched “Fly Beyond” ad campaign, which has been well-received, as well as a new flavor entry, Le Melon, which is rolling out this spring at $30 a bottle, in line with the core brand. Le Melon joins Cherry Noir, La Poire, L’Orange and Le Citron in the Grey Goose flavor line, which enjoyed 4.5% volume growth in control states last year, partially offsetting the unflavored vodka’s 1.5% decline. So far this year, that trend has reversed, with Grey Goose’s core label up 2.2% in control markets and its flavors down 4.3%.
Beauchamp notes that Fly Beyond, which focuses on Grey Goose’s “field-to-bottle provenance” and the work of maître de chai (cellar master) François Thibault, has highlighted a new authenticity angle in the brand’s marketing. That effort “has ultimately helped to enhance our credibility in the market,” she says.Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.