Vodka brand Absolut, produced by Swedish company V&S Group, has reported an increase in global sales to 76.1m litres. In Absolut's core market of the US, sales are up 3.4% to 41.8m litres.

The brand's launch in the 1980s changed the face of spirits marketing in the US by creating a young, exciting brand with clever and subversive advertising. More recently, however, other imports, super-premium and flavored vodkas have followed the trail that Absolut pioneered, taking the edge off its growth.

Indeed, scope for further growth of the core Absolut spirit in the US is now limited - around half of US growth this year came from super-premium variant Level, with the new flavoured Absolut Raspberri also contributing. The key for Absolut in the US now is to maintain core sales around their current level, while keeping the brand image fresh and capitalising on new vodka market developments.

In contrast, the potential for Absolut outside the US is high. Per head consumption of Absolut in the UK and Germany is less than one fifth of its US level and much of this year's growth came from non-US markets. To grow in western Europe, the brand needs to increase its visibility further: if it can achieve this, then the ongoing growth and premiumisation in vodka markets across the continent should naturally lead to rising Absolut sales.

Sales in Asia are growing even faster and, due to its current low base, the area is potentially even more rewarding for Absolut than Europe, though also more challenging. To succeed, Absolut will need to persuade Asian consumers that vodka is a product analogous to Scotch whisky or brandy - one where consuming niche, expensive brands confers more status on the drinker than sticking to the well-known mainstream offerings. While this is possible, it is far from guaranteed.