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Vodka Marketers Aim For Renewed Growth In 2023

March 14, 2023

Vodka volume in the U.S. slipped slightly last year, down 0.5% to 81 million cases, according to Impact Databank, but the versatile category remains the largest single segment of the U.S. spirits market, and some marketers see renewed growth opportunities moving forward.

“Vodka remains one of the top-selling spirits on the market and still holds market share as the preferred on-premise cocktail base,” says Sean Yelle, senior category marketing director at Campari America, which recently reformulated the Skyy brand to focus on current consumption trends.

Top-ranked Tito’s saw growth cool off somewhat last year, but still added more than a half-million cases of volume, with the brand nearing 11.6 million cases. That’s almost double its total from 2017. Tito’s recently named Richmond, Virginia-based Arts & Letters as its first lead brand creative partner. The move came following the success of Arts & Letters’ “Tito’s In A Can” campaign from last summer, which took aim at the influx of hard seltzers and canned cocktails. It followed up with “Tito’s DIY January With Martha Stewart,” a tongue-in-cheek marketing push featuring Stewart finding alternative uses for the brand around the house.

Second-ranked Smirnoff totaled 8.8 million cases last year, down an estimated 2%, according to Impact Databank. But in the six months through December, Smirnoff posted 7% net sales growth in the U.S., “largely driven by growth of the core variant and flavored variants, primarily Smirnoff Spicy Tamarind, which are recruiting younger and more diverse consumers,” Diageo said. Smirnoff is also leveraging flavored vodkas, the latest being a Blue Raspberry Lemonade extension, which launched in February.

With consumers gravitating to pre-packaged cocktails, growth was difficult to come by among the U.S. market’s brand leaders last year, but in addition to Tito’s, Deep Eddy, Platinum 7X, and Barton also turned in positive performances.

Hannah Venhoff, vice president of Deep Eddy at Heaven Hill Brands, says the original unflavored Deep Eddy is growing faster than flavors, but flavors remain core to the business. “I think that it’s fair to say that we’ll introduce more new flavors along the way,” she says. “For us it’s the right portfolio of flavors. Our citrus flavors—lemon, ruby, and now lime—have really dominated for us.” She adds that flavored vodkas provide a bridge to RTD drinkers as they make their way into the full-strength vodka market.

With the on-premise nearing pre-pandemic levels, some marketers see improved growth on the horizon. “We know our sales have jumped significantly since the beginning of the pandemic,” says Aleco Azqueta, vice president of marketing for Grey Goose at Bacardi. “As we move further into a post-pandemic world, we know that the demand for vodka will continue to rise.”—Juan Banaag

Top 12 Vodka Brands in the U.S.1
(millions of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Company 2021 2022 Percent
1 Tito’s Fifth Generation 11.00 11.55 5.0%
2 Smirnoff Diageo North America 8.93 8.78 -1.7%
3 New Amsterdam Spirit of Gallo 5.36 5.33 -0.6%
4 Svedka Constellation Brands 4.25 3.83 -9.8%
5 Absolut Pernod Ricard USA 3.23 3.16 -2.1%
6 Grey Goose Bacardi USA 2.63 2.60 -1.1%
7 Ketel One Diageo North America 2.62 2.53 -3.6%
8 Pinnacle Beam Suntory 2.27 2.18 -4.0%
9 Burnett’s Heaven Hill Brands 2.23 2.00 -10.0%
10 Platinum 7X Sazerac Co. 1.95 2.00 2.6%
11 Deep Eddy Heaven Hill Brands 1.84 1.95 5.9%
12 Barton Sazerac Co. 1.90 1.93 1.5%
Total Top 123 48.20 47.83 -0.8%
1 Includes flavors; excludes RTDs.
2 Based on unrounded data.
3 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.

Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2023

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