Top 10 best-selling vodka brands
Vodka has suffered of late, not only eclipsed by the runaway success of gin, but suffering from turmoil in several of its biggest markets. However as our top 10 global vodka brands reveals, there is still growth to be found.
Vodka accounts for around 29% of the spirits category, but sales of the versatile white spirit have been hit in recent years, falling -4.3% in the last year, according to the IWSR. This is primarily due to a slowdown in key markets including Russia and Poland which are its largest markets. Volumes in Russia for example fell 9.3%, the IWSR reported.
“The weight of the category is still in Eastern Europe and Russia is dragging that global figure down,” Spiros Malandrakis of Euromonitor explains. “The situation is different to that in the West for although it is embedded in the culture, it has lost kudos [among younger drinkers] – it is the drink of a different generation and the economic issues and legislation has has created a perfect storm, causing volumes to go down. The best case is that we will witness low single digit growth.”
Malandrakis also points to the “huge potential” in China, which has still not sufficiently materialised.
“It obviously has a historic association with white spirits but the Chinese consumer has yet to adopt that – it’s been around for a while and it’s yet to be realised.”
The UK is seeing stronger growth, along with the US, particularly for premium vodka. According to the most recent Nielsen data vodka sales increased across the UK off-trade by 1.1%, £12.3m in the 52 weeks to 12 August 2017, with flavoured vodkas taking the lead, accounting for 36% of growth, even though it makes up just 4% of the market. Similarly premium brands accounted for 76% of the UK growth, growing at 9.2% despite being only 9% of the market, compared to 0.3% for standard brands.
Premium vodka has also shifted its focus, moving from the celebrity-endorsed aspirational focus of the past to embrace a brand’s provenance, sourcing and production credentials, while the craft cues are starting to make themselves felt in flavoured vodkas, even though it may have passed it peak in terms of popularity.
“Now it is about organic and natural associations that have a connection to the narrative of the brand or the place it comes from, rather than saccharine waves of flavour that helped destroy the category and probably drove the mainstream brands [down],” Malandrakis points out. “So we will continue to see vodka flavours, but at a moderate pace.”
Click through for our round up of the top 10 best-selling vodka brands….
(Figures are based on the number of nine-litre cases sold globally and wherever possible, figures have been obtained directly from brand owners)
Brand owner: Synergy
Head office: 15, Stroiteley str, Krasnoznamensk, Moscow Region, Russia
Volume 2016: 3.72 million 9L cases
Volume 2015: 3.47 million 9L cases
Synergy’s vodka brand, Belenkaya achieved strong growth in 2016, rising more than 7%. The company attributed this to a boost in existing markets, including The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Latvia, as well as shipments to new markets, such as Romania, Greece, Mongolia and Argentina. It claims to be the number one vodka in both volume and value terms in Russia, and this forms the basis of its international marketing campaigns.
The brand has only two skus, Belenkaya Gold and Belenkaya Extra, and 2016 saw the extension of the range with new bottle sizes, 20 cl and 175cl, supported by sponsorship of sporting events throughout the year, including the NHL hockey championships and various national football matches.
Brand owner: Gruppo Campari
Head office: Sesto San Giovanni Via Franco Sacchetti 20
Group CEO: Bob Kunze-Concewitz
Volume 2016: 3.9 million 9L cases
Volume 2015: 3.95 million 9L cases
Change : -1.27%
Skyy’s global sales saw a dip in 2016, falling -1.4% in value, according to parent company Campari’s results, and 1.27% in volumes to 3.9 million 9L cases. This was despite it being one of the global priority portfolio brands, and came largely on the back of poor performance of its naturally flavoured Infusion portfolio, which dragged down the better-performing core range.
Sales in its top market, the US, were flat, but the brands maintains that ongoing ‘brand activation’, such as the marketing campaign over Christmas which saw the limited edition Skyy holiday bottle inspire giant knitting projects on the streets of New York or the sponsorship of the @International Beach Festival in Mexico, is boosting “relevance” among millennials.
There has been growth in other markets, with good sales across most of Latin America off-setting a 20% decline in Brazil after double-digit growth last year. Italy, Germany and Australia also saw gain, but other markets declined. , while other markets produced a slight decline in organic growth.
8. Grey Goose
Brand owner: Bacardi Martini
CEO: Michael J. Dolan
Volume 2016: 3.98 million 9L cases
Volume 2015: 3.95 million 9L cases
Change: 0.76 + %
Industry estimates put the volume sales of the privately-owned Bacardi brand Grey Goose vodka at 3.98 million 9L cases. Although there was relatively flat growth during 2016, with the addition of only around 30,000 9L cases, the company says there is still growth in the premium and super premium sector worldwide Last summer, the brand revealed a series of pop-ups in 20 different cities across North America and the US which whisked consumers off for a taste of the French Riviera, a new signature serve and marketing campaign under its “Extraordinary experiences” banner.
“Consumers trade up to products that focus on the highest quality ingredients,” a spokesman told db.
“While flavour variations will always be around and are perfect for creating fun cocktails, we’re seeing that consumers are gravitating more towards natural ingredients in their pure form,” they continued. ”People want to understand the ingredients and the process with which products that they are consuming are made. This is a macro-trend above and beyond the spirits category – but one which deeply impacts the spirits category.”
7. Pyat Ozer (Five Lakes)
Brand owner: Alcohol Siberia Group
Head office: 30th floor, Imperia Tower, Moscow-City, Presnenskaya nab., 6/2, Moscow, Russia, 123317
Volume 2016: 4.2 9L cases
Volume 2015: 4.2 9L cases
Change: 0 %
Sales volumes of Russian vodka brand Five Lakes Vodka (Pyat Ozer) were flat this year, largely on the back of falling Russian sales, prompted by economic instability of the wider Russian market. But the brand maintains it is “proud that Five Lakes remains the world bestselling Russian vodka despite some decrease in sales volumes because of Russian market issues”.
The brand includes three main lines, Five Lakes Classic, Five Lakes Premium and Five Lakes Special. Other brands in the parent company’s portfolio includes White Birch, Husky, Kedrovitsa, and Gusli .
Brand owner: Constellation Brands
Head office: Victor, New York, USA
President and CEO: Rob Sands
Volume 2016: 4.335 million 9L cases
Volume 2015: 4.2 million 9L cases
Constellation Brand’s Swedish vodka brand has seen promising growth in the last year, which helped pushed net sales growth at the parent company’s spirits portfolio by 6%.
As well as a vibrant domestic market, its largest international markets include the Caribbean, South Korea and Germany, which have seen volumes growth in the last year, and the US, where it claims to be the number one imported vodka.
“We are confident that volume will continue to rise in the coming year as we have strong partnerships with our distributors and they are primed to continue to build the Svedka brand in market,” the brand said. It also claims its flavoured vodka are among the best performing on the market, and the new raspberry flavour in a striking two-tone bottle, is already become popular with millennials in the US. Other flavours in the range include the cucumber lime sku it launched in 2016, and a grapefruit jalapeno variant.
According to the brand, the trends have remained steady with classic cocktails dominating – which it notes is “very helpful for Svedka since it is so versatile and has an incredible value proposition”.
Brand owner: Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits
Head office: 19, Boulevard Paul Vaillant Couturier, 40, Quai Jean Compagnon, Ivry-sur-Seine, 94200, France
CEO: Jean-Noël Reynaud
Volume 2016: 4.4m 9L cases
Volume 2015: 4.0m 9L cases
Change : 10 %
The Eastern European vodka brand, which is owned by French wine and spirit company Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits has picked up pace this year, boosting volume sales by 10% – making it the second fastest growing brand in the global top ten. This is the second strong showing for the brand, after seeing strong volume growth last year and coincides with the parent company emerging from a recovery plan, and embarked on a new growth strategy.
Poland is Krupnik’s key market, where it is the second largest vodka brand, with a market share of around 13%. During 2016, the market saw a boost to flavored Krupnik, now accounting for 7.4% of the brand, boosted by strong growth in Poland, where volumes rose 42.7%.
Brand owner: Roust
Head office: Novoorlovskaya Street 5, Moscow 119633 Russia
Chairman of the board: Roustam Tariko
Volume 2016: 7.10 million 9L cases
Volume 2015: 6.15 million 9L cases
Change : 15.45%
Poland’s favourite vodka, Żubrówka has seen its brand grow by more than 4 million 9L cases in the last five years, making it one of the fastest growing spirit brands in the world. Its success is largely due to its success on the large domestic market – the fourth largest market for vodka – where its best-selling brand, Żubrówka Biala, enjoys a 20% market share, and outgrew the wider vodka market.
The vodka uses extracts of rare Bison grass harvested from the ancient Białowieża Forest in Poland (home to endangered Bison) to create it’s unique flavour, and two new botanical flavours – with hint of mint and with hint of juniper – launched this year show the flavoured vodka market is not only alive and kicking, but growing faster than its ‘pure’ vodka counterparts.
According to the company, its new super premium Żubrówka Czarna, launched in 2016, has already become the fourth biggest player on the domestic market, as consumers are seeking “more authentic brands with real stories to tell”.
The brand has also grown its exports, seeing accelerated growth of 20% in the UK off-trade, (Nielsen Total Off Trade to 31 December 2016) compared with +13% the year before. It also has a 12.4% share of the flavoured vodka market, the company claimed.
Other key European markets include the Ukraine, Germany, France, Hungary as well as the US, Canada and Japan.
Brand owner: Global Spirits
Head office: www.khor.com
CEO: Maxim Dubossarsky
Volume 2016: 7.51 million 9L cases
Volume 2015: 7.29 million 9L cases
Change: 3.02 %
Ukrainian-made vodka brand, Khortystsa has seen strong growth in the market, driven by growth in Eastern Europe, where it is the number one selling vodka, doing particularly well in the Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Kazahstan, Poland and Germany. However brand owner Global Spirits has its eyes firmly on the US market, where it is known as Khor, and it has made strides to boost its chances across the Pond. After opening a US office in 2015, it has added a central distributor, and expanded into new states, including Kentucky, California and more recently New England.
The brand comprises four main skus, the most popular being Khortytsa Platinum, along with Khortytsa Ice, Khortytsa Honey Pepper, a premium line, Khortytsa De Luxe.
The company’s other brands include Morosha Vodka, Pervak Vodka and LEAF Vodka, which are sold in more than 80 different global markets.
Brand owner: Pernod Ricard
Head office: 12 place des Etats-Unis 75783 Paris
CEO: Alexandre Ricard
Volume 2016: 11.00m
Volume 2015: 11.02m
Sales of Absolut were reported to have stabilised after a disastrous 2015, which saw Pernod Ricard write down €404 million write due to failing performance of the Absolut vodka brand in America, which caused the company’s net profits to slide by 15%. In 2015, net sales of the second largest vodka brand fell by 1% with volumes flat at 11.2 million nine-litre cases, but sales have been stronger in the UK and Europe, even if the US is still struggling.
New innovations during 2016 included an oak-aged expression, which was trialled in the US before was released into travel retail worldwide, a limited edition LGBTQ packaged vodka
Adam Boita, head of marketing at Pernod Ricard UK said the company was seeing continued brand sales growth that was outstripping the current decline in the category across the on- and off-trade.
Last year the brand culled some of the flavours in its portfolio to make sapce, and Boita noted the continuing flavour innovation.
“We’ve recently launch Absolut Lime to the market which aims to help capitalise on the recent Vodka Soda trend. We’ve also just launched our range of pre-mix Premium Flavoured RTDs, Absolut Mixt available in Blueberry & Lime and Cloudberry & Apple with the latter reflecting a true Swedish flavour of the Cloudberry.
1. Smirnoff, Diageo
Brand owner: Diageo
CEO: Ivan Menezes
Volume 2016: 25.50m 9L cases
Volume 2015: 25.80m 9L cases
The world’s biggest vodka brand by far is Diageo’s Smirnoff, which clocks more than double the volume of its nearest competition. However the brand saw a dip in volumes in 2016, after a more promising 2015, with volumes falling slightly, down 1.16%, the equivalent of around 300,000 9L cases. This comes despite the launch of a Smirnoff Sourced vodka range last February – a range of flavoured vodka that contain real fruit juice and aims to tap into the growing consumer demand for authentic, natural flavours – as well as a Smirnoff based cider brand. Since then, it has also upped its focus on low-cal RTDs.
More recently, the brand has also had fun at President’s Trump’s expense with a tongue-in-cheek US-based advertising campaign pointing out that while the vodka was made in America, it was still happy to talk about its Russian connections.
Please see the September issue of The Drinks Business for our vodka feature