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Brand Analysis

By Lulu Yang
Introduction: The Smirnoff brand
Smirnoff is a vodka brand owned and produced by British
alcoholic beverages company, Diageo
Founded in Moscow in 1860s by Pyotr Smirnov
It is the number one selling vodka in the U.S.
It is distributed in 130 countries
It is produced in several countries including India, Ireland, the
U.K., the U.S., and Italy
Smirnoff products include vodka, flavoured vodka, and malt
Most well known are Smirnoff Red Label and Smirnoff Ice (which
spawned the drinking game called icing)
Smirnoffs target audience is young adults aged 21-34
Source: Smirnoff website
Why Smirnoff?
I chose this product because alcohol is very prevalent
in college communities and I wanted to learn more
about my favourite type of alcohol (vodka)
I also find alcoholic beverage advertising (especially
some of Smirnoffs old campaigns) interesting and
decided to take this opportunity to explore how the
most popular vodka brands market themselves and
how they differentiate themselves from their
competition in a competitive category where all of the
products are quite similar
Vodka category: Overview
Vodka sales grew 34% between 2007-12
Vodka is the most popular segment in the larger
white spirits and RTD (ready-to-drink) category it
represents 55.7% of total sales
Sales of 9-liter cases
Year 000 % change
2007 52,518 -
2008 55,246 +5.2
2009 58,505 +5.9
2010 62,100 +6.1
2011 66,470 +7
2012 70,600 +6.2
Figure to left shows U.S.
volume sales of 9-liter
cases of vodka from
2007-12 and the
%change in sales
between 2007-12
Source: Mintel/The Beverage Information Group
Vodka category: Overview cont
Vodka category is experiencing growth, and is very
crowded and highly competitive
Recently theres been a big expansion of flavoured
vodka products contributing to the growth of vodka
Vodka is also a highly compatible and popular mixer,
used extensively in cocktails (another reason for the
continuing growth of the market)
Number of vodka drinks consumed per month
increased from 3.81 to 4.05 from 2007-12 (measured
by Experian Simmons NCS/NHCS)

Source: Mintel
Vodka category: Market share
Following figure shows market share of top four brands
in 2010 and 2011
Category leader (market share) is Smirnoff, followed by
Absolut, then Svedka, then Grey Goose


Market share

Market share





Pernod Ricard




Bacardi USA

Grey Goose


Source: Mintel
Chief competitors
Smirnoffs (14.6%) chief competitors by market share are
Absolut (6.9%), Svedka (5.6%), and Grey Goose (5.2%)
Source: Mintel
Smirnoff analysis
Brand name: Smirnoff
Headline: Pure Smirnoff
Slogan: The difference is
Benefit: Smirnoff is pure
and clean, original and
quirky it will make you
see things in a different
and more interesting way
Details: This ad is part of a larger campaign that depicts how
random scenes viewed through a bottle of Smirnoff are
different from their surroundings. The campaign is surprising
and emphasises quirkiness, being different and fun, as well as
Competitor analysis: Absolut
Brand name: Absolut
Headline: Absolut Perfection
Slogan: None
Benefit: Theres nothing better
than Absolut, its so perfect its
Details: The Absolut campaign
is iconic now, and is more about
awareness, creativity, and art
than promising a benefit. The
focus of the ads is the
distinctive shape of the Absolut
Competitor analysis: Svedka
Brand: Svedka
Headline: None
Slogan: Voted #1 vodka of
Benefit: Svedka is the drink
of the future
Details: Svedka is known for
provocative and edgy
advertising that centers
around the future and uses
the Svedka femme-bot as
its mascot. The slogan is a
reflection of the futuristic
Competitor analysis: Grey Goose
Brand: Grey
Discerning taste
Slogan: Worlds
best tasting vodka
Benefit: Grey
Goose is classy,
elegant, and
tasteful drink
Details: Grey Goose ads are understated and sophisticated like the
brand itself. The discerning taste campaign positions Grey Goose
as the perfect drink for a variety of elegant and more luxurious
activities like golfing, tennis, and sailing.
Competitor analysis summary
Brand Headline Slogan Positioning
The difference is
Performance excellence: Smirnoff tastes
more pure than other vodka and is of a
higher quality. The difference between
Smirnoff and its competition is clear.
Absolut Absolut
None Leader: Absolut positions itself as the
most well-known vodka (and vodka
advertiser) in the world through its
creative campaign that speaks to people
in many cultures and places.
Svedka None Voted #1 vodka of
Innovator: Svedka is forward thinking,
out-there, edgy, and the vodka of the
Worlds best
tasting vodka
Performance excellence: Grey Goose is
the most luxurious and most elegant
vodka in the category. It is classy and
Smirnoffs target audience
21 to 34 year olds (younger adults)
This demographic is 138% more likely than the average
American to drink shots of spirits, 34% more likely to
drink spirits on the rocks, and 29% more likely to drink
mixed drinks
Source: GfK MRIs Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2010 (Adults 21+
Smirnoffs target audience cont.
Cultural movement marketing builds brands by leading or aligning
with an idea on the rise (Scott Goodson)
Smirnoff did this recently by supporting gay rights
Ad below was posted on Smirnoffs Facebook page
Aligning with the current trend in support of gay rights further
establishes Smirnoffs target audience of young adults who are more
open to the idea of gay rights
Brand as a product
Place of origin: Moscow, Russia
Smirnoffs functional benefits:
Premium vodka for a decent price
Reliable and trusted product and brand
Unique triple distillation process which leads to a cleaner and
more pure taste
Smirnoffs emotional benefits:
The product and its users are unique, youthful, and vibrant
It is a forward thinking and bold brand that stands for what it
believes in
Users of Smirnoff are young adults
Mixed drinks
Drinking on the rocks
Brand as an organisation
The Smirnoff brand is a
global organisation
Smirnoff supports:
Having fun
Being young at heart
Being unique, special,
Equality and gay rights
Brand values:
Originality and boldness
Individuality and
Brand as a personality
Smirnoff is:
Youthful and contemporary (as illustrated through
its Facebook page, target audience, and wide
variety of flavoured vodkas and RTDs)
Fun and different (as illustrated through its quirky
ad campaigns and the bright and colourful
pictures posted on its Facebook page)
About individuality and being unapologetically
who you are
Brand as a symbol
Smirnoff has a rich brand heritage:
Founded in 1860s in Moscow
Long history, high quality standards throughout
Still produced using the same triple distillation process and still filtered
ten times (just like it was when it was first founded)
Visual imagery associated with Smirnoff:
Eagles symbolising freedom, pride, and authority
Red symbolising power and activity
Source: Smirnoff website
Social media
Social media is a combination of the interactions between people
online and the medium through which they interact
It is used to share and exchange ideas, keep in touch with people, and
meet new people
Main things that differentiate social media from traditional media are:
Immediacy: everything happens instantly and in real time
Interactivity: brands can directly engage with consumers
Social media can be a great place to advertise, gain earned media, and
have messages spread through word of mouth
Social media sites include: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest
Smirnoff in social media
As a youthful brand, Smirnoff has a solid presence in
social media
Facebook page which is updated daily
Over 9.4 million likes
226,000+ people talking about brand
Twitter which is also updated daily
Over 4,000 tweets and over 13,500 followers
But audience on Twitter is not very engaged
Smirnoff in social media cont.
every pairing is perfect ad (mentioned
Aired on Facebook while an estimated
2.7 million people changed their
profile pictures to the red equals
symbol in support of gay marriage
Ad received overwhelmingly positive
comments (very few negative
Mixhibit (March 2013)
Social utility that takes social media
activity from all your social networks
and turns it into a video with personal
Sources: Facebook and
Smirnoff & the Dragonfly Effect
Named after dragonfly which is able to move in any direction with
its four wings
Four wings to the model
1. Focus: The goal of Smirnoffs social media campaign is to
showcase its products and different ways in which they can be
used (as evidenced by the posts Smirnoff makes marketing its
products and different mixed drinks recipes) in a way that engages
its audience
Success can be measured through views, shares, and comments on
photos posted by Smirnoff or retweets of its tweets on Twitter
Dragonfly Effect cont.
2. Grab attention: Smirnoff grabs attention
by using bright colours and vivid photos,
and sending tweets that are highly
relatable (see right)
3. Engage: Smirnoff engages its audience
effectively through its Facebook page
Its authentic in its interactions
It builds a common ground with audience
around appreciating a good drink and in
general just having a fun time
It responds in a quick, friendly, and still
professional manner to comments
4. Take action: Smirnoff makes it easy for its
fans to take action
Images marketing a product or promoting
articles have links to where the article can
be read or the product purchased
A lot of open-ended questions and
statements inviting discussion are used on
its Facebook and Twitter pages

Overall, I feel Smirnoff has done a great job with its advertising. TV spots,
print ads, and its social media campaign are all consistent with its
positioning as a fun-loving, youthful brand, that celebrates being different
and having a great time. They have been able to connect with their target
audience effectively which I think is because Smirnoff was very good at
finding the emotional link between their brand and their target (a step
from the New Marketers Tool Chest on how to build a better position).
They saw that young people just want to have fun and be themselves and
made Smirnoff a product that is conducive to that and supports it.

In terms of social media, their Facebook page grabs attention right away
with bright colours and lots of eye-catching photographs while further
solidifying the brands position. With 9.4 million likes, Smirnoff is way ahead
of its competition: Absolut has 1 million likes, Svedka has 500,000, and Grey
Goose has 1.3 million. This is probably due in part to how well Smirnoff
implements the four aspects of the Dragonfly Effect model (as covered
earlier) and also how active and relatable their page and posts are.
Conclusion cont.
TV spots for Smirnoff (which I havent covered in this analysis) mostly depict
fun scenes at clubs and parties made even more fun by the presence of
Smirnoff drinks once again very much in support of Smirnoffs positioning
and very appealing to their target audience. Smirnoffs print ads are generally
fun and quirky (some examples shown below).

Smirnoffs other marketing efforts which help them effectively connect with
their intended target include cultural movement marketing where they aligned
themselves with the current trend in support of gay rights, their mobile app
Mixhibit, and an event they created called the Nightlife Exchange Project
which was about the experiencing and sharing of different nightlife cultures.
Conclusion cont.
All of Smirnoffs marketing strategies are well integrated and present a
consistent image of the brand. They speak effectively to Smirnoffs target
audience and take advantage of a variety of different types of marketing
(movement marketing and event hosting for example) and also platforms
(print, TV, social).

A suggestion I would make for improving their social media campaign
would be to either focus more on their Twitter account or to abandon it
altogether. With 13,500 followers, as opposed to the 9.4 million likes it
has on Facebook, Smirnoffs Twitter presence is relatively weak. Tweets
they send are only retweeted or favourited a handful of times and very
few people tweet at them. Having a very active Twitter account that
doesnt appear to be reaching many people might be a waste of resources
and also make the brand seem far less popular than it actually is.
Conclusion cont.
This contest could be one where users have to retweet, follow, or
favourite to have a chance of winning. It could also be a more creative
contest, for example, having people take artsy pictures of their favourite
Smirnoff drink or responding creatively to a question posed by Smirnoff
and hashtagging Smirnoff in the tweet (e.g. #SmirnoffContest or
something similar). Twitter contests have proved successful in the past for
brands like Starbucks (#myFrappuccino, #freestarbucks), Uniqlo
(#luckycounter), and Dominos Pizza (#letsdolunch).