Vodka and marketing


Jun 18 2018

Everything we see on supermarket shelves is influenced by marketing, and with many of Australia’s top liquor store brands owned by our largest supermarkets, it’s no surprise that it’s the case for alcohol too. One of the oldest marketing strategies is the association of price and quality. If a bottle of wine is more expensive, most of the time we believe it's of a higher quality; it’s either made better, is better for us, or will taste better.

Vodka and marketing

Everything we see on supermarket shelves is influenced by marketing, and with many of Australia’s top liquor store brands owned by our largest supermarkets, it’s no surprise that it’s the case for alcohol too.

One of the oldest marketing strategies is the association of price and quality. If a bottle of wine is more expensive, most of the time we believe it's of a higher quality; it’s either made better, is better for us, or will taste better.

Among the aisles of your local bottle shop, you’ll find the party hosts, binge drinkers, liquor snobs, and fresh 18-year-olds ready to kill their livers all sharing a similar thought... “this Vodka is cheap, therefore it will be terrible tasting and I will get a bad hangover because of it”.

Most of the time you’ll get a bad hangover because of the amount you drink or the lack of water you drank, rather than the drink itself! But still, we carry the stigma that liquors are better if they’re more expensive. While this is true for spirits that are aged or stored differently – such as Whiskey or Cognac – it’s typically not the case for Vodka. 

Vodka is made to be odourless and flavourless; it’s stripped down to a bare alcoholic foundation and built from there. But even the amount Vodka is “distilled” can’t help to equate its worth. A bottle of 700ml Ruskov distilled 5 times is $30, while a 700ml Belvedere distilled just 4 times is $60. 

While added flavours provide some level of differentiation on the shelf, the single biggest difference between vodkas is branding, including product packaging and often celebrity endorsements. 

Much like fragrances, vodkas are famously endorsed by celebrities, such as the association between P. Diddy and Ciroc Vodka, and heavy investments are made into developing the perfect bottle, such as celebrity Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka, with its glass skull bottle reportedly having a staggering 40% defect rate in production.

If you were to put a novelty bottle of $85 700ml Crystal Head Vodka next to a standard bottle of $30 700ml Mishka Vodka, you wouldn’t be blamed for averting straight to the big old skull. But both vodkas have won awards, and both are triple distilled at minimum.

Here are some reviews from Dan Murphy’s website. Can you guess what vodka they’re talking about? “Beautiful little number with great taste and palate”, “Smooth and silky”, “Worth a try”. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that these reviews are talking about the $30 700ml Mishka Vodka.

So, next time you buy a bottle of vodka, do your research first and keep in mind that if you make a choice based on a fancy bottle or celebrity endorsement, it’s likely you’ll be contributing just as much to that bottle and P. Diddy’s next art purchase as you will be for the vodka itself.

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