The V&S Group is reportedly planning a UK launch of its new RTD variant Absolut Cut. 

After experiencing phenomenal growth during the early days, manufacturers' and consumers' enthusiasm for the RTD market has since waned, especially in recognition of growing market clutter. However, the V&S Group's focus on taste and image in designing Absolut Cut should ensure a positive reception, particularly in Europe.

Last week, premium vodka brand Absolut made its debut in the RTD arena. The global roll-out of Absolut Cut began in Canada, which is serving as the product's test market. The popular Swedish distiller has teamed up with Labatt Breweries of Canada, a subsidiary of Interbrew. Labatt will oversee all production and distribution of Cut locally.

Cut is a combination of citrus fruits, including lime, orange and mandarin, sparkling water and Absolut vodka. It has just a slight hint of sweetness and a short, clean aftertaste. Premium priced, it will be introduced in sleek open- basket four-packs while individual product packaging resembles a small bottle of Absolut vodka with etched cuts into the glass.

The makers have identified that because of evolving consumer preferences there is an opportunity for a more sophisticated product in numerous global RTD markets. Bengt Baron, president of V&S Absolut Spirits, described Cut as the "next generation of pre-mixed drinks, ready to change the segment in the same way as Absolut Vodka did to the vodka segment in 1979".

Although the V&S Group's official plans for Absolut Cut outside Canada remain relatively secret, the Swedish brand owner recently confirmed to industry publication 'The Grocer' that it was considering a UK launch.

There are numerous factors that will influence the success of any prospective launch. Firstly, emphasizing the credentials of the parent Absolut brand will be an important factor in creating the necessary premium position the brand seeks in an image-focused category. Absolut is certainly known as a premium vodka and the success of Smirnoff Ice has already illustrated the important role parent brands can play.

Importantly, Cut has also focused on new taste attributes after identifying that people are now looking for a less sweet, somewhat drier drink. Assuming that consumers will be receptive to the premium price that accompanies the premium positioning, a successful UK and Europe launch may be just around the corner.