Why upselling premium vodka works

Some bartenders may be tired of vodka but bar owners ignore the category at their peril. According to market research company Euromonitor International, super-premium vodka commands 11.2 per cent of all vodka sold, the largest super-premium share of any drinks category. There are opportunities for good margins here.

Les Page, managing director of island2island, confirms that sales of super-premium vodka are buoyant.

“Premiumisation has brought new interest and awareness to spirits as a whole and that can only be a good thing,” he says. “Consumers are demanding better quality spirits. The biggest shift we’ve noticed at island2island is with our Stolichnaya range of premium vodkas. Many more consumers are drinking super-premium and ultra-luxury vodkas, like elit by Stolichnaya, neat on the rocks.”

Research suggests consumers are usually more willing to be ‘upsold’ when it comes to vodka. With whisky and rum, there are often age statements that can help consumers navigate the categories. But vodka, while accessible in terms of flavour profile, remains a mystery for many.

“It’s a great opportunity for bartenders to use their knowledge of brands to encourage their customers to trade up,” Page says. “Premium spirit drinkers place a great deal of importance on provenance and heritage. They want to know more about what they are drinking and the origins of the drink. The more authentic the story, the deeper the connection and therefore the stronger the loyalty. Consumers look to bartenders to help them find the brand that works best for them.”

When it comes to drinking premium, research by island2island shows the biggest uplift is coming from over 28-year-olds, both male and female, as a result of higher disposable income, an emphasis on drinking occasions and evolving palates.

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