Earlier today (5 December), Diageo hosted a briefing on its position in the vodka category. Here, just-drinks looks at the numbers for the sector as a whole, and Diageo's three global vodka brands.

  • The total vodka category is bigger than rum and Scotch whisky. Russia and the CIS countries soak up most of the world's vodka. Outside of Russia and the US, 183m cases of vodka were sold last year. The CAGR for vodka outside Russia and the CIS between 2001 and 2011 ran at 4.7%.
  • Last year, vodka sales in Russia and the CIS totalled 312m cases. Second was Western Europe, with 78m cases, followed by the US, with 70m cases.
  • Diageo sold 34m cases of vodka globally last year. The spirit accounted for 12% of the company's net sales value (NSV) in fiscal-2012, and 24% of NSV growth in the 12-month period.
  • The US is the largest market for Smirnoff. The UK is the second largest.
  • Smirnoff is Diageo's mainstream vodka offering. After posting NSV decreases in fiscal-2010 and 2011, the brand returned to growth in fiscal-2012, delivering a 6% lift in NSV. The company has credited the turnaround to “marketing and product innovation”.
  • Vodka RTDs still have a part to play for Diageo: In fiscal-2012, the sub-category, driven by Smirnoff Ice, saw NSV slip by 2% in total, but rose by 9% in emerging markets.
  • Ketel One is run by a joint-venture between Diageo and the Nolet family, who are based in Amsterdam. The tie-up, secured in 2008, runs in perpetuity. The premium, craft spirit offering is available in 70 markets and has posted four consecutive years of growth. Fiscal-2012 NSV for the brand rose by 9%, with volumes hitting 2m cases.
  • Diageo's ultra-premium vodka brand is Ciroc, a vodka produced in France from grapes. Ciroc was at risk of becoming a niche brand, before the company teamed up with US rapper Sean 'Diddy' Combs in late-2007. After posting triple-digit growth in fiscal-2009 and 2011, driven almost solely by the US, Ciroc saw NSV rise by a more modest 62% in fiscal-2012. Volumes totalled around 2m cases.