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Flavoured Vodka Trends 2024

May 15, 2024

Flavoured Vodka Trends 2024

Flavoured vodka is overcoming the odds. Having turned the traditionally flavour-, odour- and colour-free spirit on its head, the sub-category is also bucking wider market trends with good sales growth.
Vodka is leading the way within the white spirits category. The distilled spirit enjoys the highest sales, topping £4bn across the UK every year since 2021 and seeing 89m litres purchased in 2023 alone*.
Within this, flavoured vodka is delivering strong sales for both on- and off-trade. Across the pub sector sales of flavoured vodkas grew by 14.1% in 2023, while also generating close to £33m in sales in impulse convenience in the same period**.

Market context

Like so many discretionary food and drink types, the white spirits category has been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis. Volume sales have fallen back sharply from the post-Covid boost seen in 2021. Named brands have lost out the most here, though own label offerings have gained some market share.
On-trade sales are also losing out as drinkers with tighter budgets favour lower-priced, off-trade options. Though rising prices have been a decider for many adults to cut back on drinking altogether, hindering both on- and off-trade. And the declining population of younger people (ages 20-34), who are also increasingly leaning into the alcohol moderation trend, is expected to further erode sales.
White spirits are typically enjoyed more frequently by those with healthy finances, so further sales boosts are expected for the category as household incomes are expected to improve through 2025-26 too. Rising inflation will also offer drinks brands some reprieve by boosting values sales growth.

Market opportunities

Now there are plenty of ways drinks brands can seize on flavoured vodka trends to generate healthy sales. Targeting the right drinkers, aligning with low-key usage occasions, and creating flavourful, versatile vodkas is key.

In our Flavoured Vodka Trends 2024 report, we explore the ways drinks brands can generate and retain interest and loyalty from drinkers to bolster sales, and which kind of flavours and formats will support this.

Opportunities & Ideas

Focusing on older age groups and at-home usage occasions will help to win sales for vodkas and flavoured vodkas, and exploring own label or NoLo alternatives will also help brands to win volume sales.
Creating flavoured vodkas suited to celebrating or elevating ordinary at-home occasions will speak to drinkers amid the ongoing squeeze on household budgets – around half of drinkers already choose white spirits to elevate evenings at home.

Low and no alcohol alternatives suit this positioning too, particularly for midweek occasions. Marketing NoLo vodkas as more of a treat, but still an affordable alternative to soft drinks will also appeal to the many drinkers moderating their alcohol consumption.
Own label creations will also appeal to the budget-conscious drinkers. These needn’t only be the standard offerings, either – there are already increasing numbers of own-label brands launching premium and limited-edition spirits.

Drinks brands can use social contagion to generate a buzz around new vodka products too, since social influencer is now a bigger driver for than even price points. Four-in-ten drinkers (43%) buy new (to them) white spirits after first trying them with, or hearing a recommendation from, family or friends*. Similarly, younger drinkers are likely to be influenced by receiving white spirits as a gift.

Using gift-giving as a prompt for purchases of new drinks like vodkas can align with the trend for decorative, display-friendly bottles and glassware. And the types of bottles used for white spirits can also help brands to demonstrate, or appeal to those interested in, sustainability. Even in the face of slower consumer spending, sustainability drives, through the types of materials used for bottles or the way ingredients are sourced, still appeal to drinkers.

Coffee Vodka

Exploring opportunities to demonstrate sustainability commitments can also generate interest in flavoured vodkas. A number of recent releases have followed this trend. Sapling Spirits added a Coffee vodka to its line late last year, made using spent grounds from luxury hotel group The Pig, alongside its existing Raspberry & Hibiscus, made from ‘wonky’ fruit. Sustainability aims are also helping own-label brands to premiumise offerings, like M&S’s Royal Mash vodka, made using surplus, oversized Jersey Royal potatoes.
Brands are also exploring other sustainability routes too, like lightweight glass or cardboard bottles. Flawless highlights how its new Yuzu & Blood Orange flavoured vodka pack has a carbon footprint six times lower than a glass bottle, for example.

Vodka brands could also be creating recipe ideas to encourage and enhance the enjoyment of white spirits – 67% of drinkers said cocktail recipes for the autumn/winter months would appeal to them*. This also offers opportunities to increase the appeal and sales for spirits year-round by creating seasonal flavour variations.

Taste and flavour – whether using seasonal ingredients for inspiration or looking at wider drinks industry trends for flavours ideas – will influence buyers too. Around a quarter of drinkers (29% of 18-34-year-olds, and 23% of all ages) see innovative flavours as offering added value and will pay more for these products*.

Flavour inspiration

With innovative flavours seen as an important added value factor amongst buyers of white spirits, there’s a range of flavour types to tap into. Developing interesting and unusual flavours for vodka will also help drinks brands to capitalise to the quarter of category buyers willing to pay more for innovative flavours*.

Fruits & Florals

Fruity or floral flavours continue to dominate amongst vodka flavours. Absolut’s Wild Berry is a classic example of this, using an instantly recognisable colour palette and flavour to stand out on the shelves.

Ciroc Limonata

Ciroc and Smirnoff have each created new vodka flavours that also tap into the ongoing drinks trend for escapism. Ciroc’s Limonata flavoured vodka infuses the premium spirit with sweet citrus flavours, reminiscent of the classic Italian lemon liqueur. Smirnoff has two flavoured vodkas within its seven new launches. Electric Guava and Spicy Tamarind have been released along with five RTDs, each drawing on international cultures and cuisines.

Smirnoff’s vibrant Electric Guava suits the trend for eye-catching bottles. Its familiar coral colour, complemented by bold purple and green branding, stands out alongside traditional clear vodkas. Creating brightly coloured drinks boosts a product’s appeal on a shelf and is likely to encourage sharing on socials too, appealing to the 23% of 18-34-year-olds who say they are prompted to purchase white spirits after seeing them shared on socials*.

Unusual

Spicy Tamarind Vodka by Smirnoff

Smirnoff’s Spicy Tamarind, meanwhile, suits the trends for unusual and experiential flavours. With a mix of spicy and zingy flavours, it is also positioned as an alternative to agave spirits. Absolut has also moved away from the usual fruity vodka flavours with its Absolut Hunni honey flavour.
Southwest Distillery has a ‘swalty’ flavour combination in its Connie Glaze Toffee Vodka liqueur, using toffee and Cornish sea salt.
Portobello Road Distillery has upped the ante on its vodka flavours too. It has followed up on its asparagus flavoured vodka with a mushroom vodka, made using flavours of mushrooms homegrown by the chef of Notting Hill restaurant The Ledbury.
Rosé is increasingly emerging as a go-to flavour for flavoured vodkas, inspired by the popularity of the pink drink. Rozel’s rosé vodka describes itself as inspired by a classic Provence rosé wine, for example.

Bring your flavoured vodka ideas to life

At Simpsons Beverages, we’re experts in flavour formulation and manufacture. Our technical know-how and industry expertise ensures customers stay one step ahead, capitalising on the latest drinks market trends.
Chat to our team today for guidance and advice on creating or expanding your flavoured vodka line.

*Mintel – White Spirits & RTDs 2024
**Luxury Spirits, as reported in Asian Trader – April 2024

 

Image source: Trendhub The Food People 2024

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