South Africa is not a big spirits market by global standards, but the spirits category is growing exponentially as more consumers aspire to drinking leading whiskey, vodka, gin and tequila brands. Pernod Ricard South Africa, providers of premium spirits brands like Jameson, Chivas Regal, Olmeca and Beefeater is leading this charge.
Absolut is the latest success story in their stable – with Absolut Blue becoming the leading vodka premium brand in value and volume in the last six months (April – Sept 2016).
In South Africa (the 13th largest alcohol volume country in 2015 out of 277), that figure is 18 per cent with beer dominating (55 per cent of volume) and wine also accounting for 18 per cent of volume (ABV). This picture is changing however, with the spirits category showing the biggest improvement in rankings against competitor categories (beer, wine, cider and mixed drinks) in South Africa over the past 10 years.
Within this flourishing spirits sector, Pernod Ricard South Africa is a smaller player, but a company to watch, having made significant strides in growth and share gain over the past three years.
Key brands that have helped Pernod Ricard deliver its results include Jameson as the leading super premium whiskey in South Africa.
Absolut (including Absolut Blue, Absolut 100, Absolut Flavours and Absolut Elyx) is growing at 63 per cent and had the largest share gain in the vodka category over the last year, in volume and value.
Since its launch in 1979, the Absolut Vodka bottle has stood out for its shape and even inspired Andy Warhol’s artwork. The iconic Absolut bottle shape adverts, the longest running campaign in history, were developed by a South African, Geoff Hayes.
Absolut’s turn-around from the “less cool” icon of a former era to a top performing vodka brand in South Africa is a compelling success story. According to Melanie Campbell, head of marketing – white spirits & rum at Pernod Ricard South Africa, ‘Absolut set out two years ago to reclaim premium vodka leadership over the medium to five year term. In less than 24 months, we achieved this with Absolut Blue by exceeding volumes and value versus our major competitor.’
Reinventing Absolut for the South African consumer meant looking back at its history. ‘We drew on what has been focused and consistent about Absolut’s brand positioning – from its brand name to the unique identity of its bottle to its premium image – and made it relevant to the local market.
With the mantra “made unnecessarily good”, Absolut is exclusively made at one distillery, from one wheat field, and one deep water well in Sweden – and distilled over a 1 000 times.