Vodka Faces Heavy Discounting Since Labor Day

FILED NOVEMBER 1, 2009

Dear Client:

This is according to a new research note from Melissa Earlam at UBS on Campari Group (Skyy Spirits in the US). She notes that completion in the US vodka category has “increased aggressively since Labor Day and has persisted since...which could step up even further into the Holiday period.” Skyy Vodka benefits from a strong presence at the off-premise (75% of volumes), but increased promotions and competition from other vodkas will keep Skyy on its toes. “Given our view that the on-trade recovery in the US will be modest, we continue to believe that SKYY is relatively well positioned, however, it may well come at a higher promotional cost,” said Melissa.

Skyy and other vodka brands priced between $10-20 per liter have seen the greatest increase in promotional activity year over year, with a 7% point average increase in volumes sold on promotion, according to Nielsen data in the four weeks to October 17. Brands that have seen the greatest promotional increase in the last 4 weeks include: Constellation’s Svedka (+17% points), Brown-Forman’s Finland (+14% points) and Diageo’s Smirnoff (+10% points). SKYY’s increase in promotional activity over the same period has lagged with a 4% point increase.

BELVEDERE VODKA SIGNS WITH ARNELL

Ad Age is reporting that Belvedere Vodka, owned by LVMH, is the latest spirits brand to sign with a new marketing agency. In Belvedere’s case, they’ve shifted their creative-advertising to Arnell Group, which beat out the incumbent company, WPP's Berlin Cameron United. Other companies that were vying for the brand include Havas' Euro RSCG and independent Cossette.

The old advertising that featured downtown hipsters and uptown elite no longer resonates with audiences due to the recession. Belvedere President Charles Gibbs told Ad Age’s Jeremy Mullman that "people's priorities are changing, and you need to establish your new relevance in their lives...now we're going to broaden the audience we're talking to."

Belvedere’s market share was flat this summer so they’re hoping a new ad campaign would breathe some life into the brand. Charles said Belvedere would likely increase spending behind the new campaign next year after cutting its ad budget in 2008.

WSD BRIEFS:

WIRTZ BEVERAGE HAS APPOINTED Mark Switaj as vp of training and development. He will oversee both the strategy and implementation of a unified corporate training and leadership development initiative across the company’s national operations. Previously Mark worked as director of training and development at Wirtz Beverage Illinois.

CONSUMERS STICKING TO THEIR SHOPPING LISTS. Back in 2007, just two years ago, 60% of shoppers made their purchasing decisions at home, while the rest made their decisions in-store. This year, that number has shot up to 83%, according to IRI. "It is essential for CPG companies to rework their marketing and merchandising strategies to begin impacting the consumer while they are at home making their shoppinglists," writes IRI in a report.

PILOTS DRINKING ON THE JOB. Here’s a terrifying statistic: from 1997 to 2008, an average of 11 commercial pilots a year tested positive for alcohol, according to the Federal Aviation Administration records and published by USA Today. The agency prohibits flying with more than 0.04% alcohol in the blood. The FAA does more than 10,000 random alcohol tests a year and 13 pilots tested positive last year.


Until tomorrow, Megan

“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”
William Ellery Channing

--------- Sell Day Calendar ----------
Today's Sell Day: 9
Sell days this month: 20
Sell days this month last year: 19
This month ends on a: Mon.
This month last year ended on a: Fri.
YTD sell days Over/Under: -1

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