UPDATE: UK: Smirnoff named "world's most powerful" spirits brand
Diageo's Smirnoff vodka topped a poll of the world's most powerful wine and spirits brands because of its global distribution and its appeal to consumers of all ages, a leading brand consultant has said.
Malcolm Davis, a director of Intangible Business - the company which drew up the poll, also praised the rise of Grey Goose and said Jack Daniel's could shoot up the league table in coming years.
Davis said Diageo had focused on building Smirnoff's presence not just in the mature markets of the West, but also in emerging markets.
"It's a brand that, wherever you go, you will find it - it is always there," Davis told just-drinks today. "Another key element has been the expansion of the brand through the RTD version over the last 10 years - Smirnoff spans pretty much every age group."
Davis, who has held senior positions at drinks firms including Hiram Walker and Allied Domecq, was part of a five-man panel at Intangible Business that named the top 100 wine and spirits brands on the planet.
The brands were ranked according to a series of 'hard' and 'soft' measures. 'Hard' measures included market share, historic and projected sales growth and the number of markets in which a brand was sold. 'Soft' measures included factors that were less easy to gauge including consumer awareness and brand heritage.
The scores were combined to draw up a league table of the most 'powerful' wine and spirits brands - with power defined as "a brand's ability to generate value for its owner", the consultants said.
Davis said three factors - financial marketing muscle, distribution and the rise in global communications - had been vital to the success of the brands.
Bacardi was second in the poll, with Johnnie Walker third and Martini fourth. The top ten also included Stolichnaya vodka at five, Hennessy Cognac at six and Jack Daniel's in the number seven spot. Absolut vodka, Ballantine's Scotch whisky and Baileys made up the rest of the top ten.
Spirits dominate the list with only nine still wine brands making the list. Gallo led the sector's charge at number 20. Davis said: "I'm not surprised that wine did not do particularly well. There are a series of brands that here, in the US and one or two other markets are reasonably well known but people generally still do not view wine brands very favourably."
Whisky, however, was the most powerful sector, according to the survey, although Scotch, Irish, US and Candian whiskies were grouped together. Davis argued that this was done as whiskies from all categories "tend to appeal to a certain type of drinker".
The top gin brand was Gordon's at number 15 while the leading Tequila, Cuervo, was a position higher, at 14. No fewer than 12 Champagne brands made the top 100, led by Moët & Chandon at number 18.
Davis noted the success of Grey Goose vodka, despite what he labelled as the "unusual circumstances" in which the brand was created. "The name Grey Goose, though a wonderful name, does not relate to anything ethnic or local," Davis said of the premium vodka, which is produced in Cognac.
"The commercial values of the brand have somehow struck a note with consumers and the speed with which it has risen is quite extraordinary," Davis said. Grey Goose was placed 47th in the poll.
Davis added that Brown-Forman's Jack Daniel's had "great potential" in the Far East and was likely to build on the "good progress" it had seen in markets like Japan, he said.
"One thing about the brand that distinguishes it from many others is that the personality of the brand revolves around Jack Daniel's as an individual. That's a powerful thing, in terms of getting new drinkers and breeds quite a lot of loyalty. Given five years, a significant amount of progress could be made."
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