Vodka: it's all about the marketing

Edith Cowan University

Monday, 22 August, 2016


Research from Edith Cowan University has shed light on what influences Australian consumers when making the decision to buy vodka.

Associate Professor Catherine Prentice surveyed 350 Australians on their attitudes towards vodka and found that when a drink is perceived as having no taste, marketing becomes king.

Branding

The research found branding was hugely important to drinkers’ attitude towards vodka in general, which brands they preferred and how often they would drink certain brands.

“Slick branding and advertising creates a vital point of difference and is a big part of the reason consumers have a positive attitude towards vodka,” Dr Prentice said. For example, Absolut Vodka has one of the most recognisable brands of any company in the world.

Packaging

Vodka companies spend endless hours designing spirit bottles, logos and packaging. While they certainly affect drinkers’ choice of a vodka brand, even the fanciest bottle is unlikely to tempt a consumer who has set out to buy gin.

“To consumers, packaging is regarded as a cue to a product’s quality,” Dr Prentice said. “It directly affects the way consumers perceive the quality of products and their brand, and in some cases packaging has been more important than the product itself.

“The research showed elaborate packaging would only affect drinkers’ choice of which brand of vodka — it has no impact on whether they choose vodka over another drink.”

Country of origin

Unlike wine and whiskey, the country of origin of vodka makes little difference to drinkers’ preference. This is despite almost universal agreement by study participants that some countries produce better vodka.

“In Australia, most of our vodkas are imported. So while we know vodkas from Russia, Sweden, Poland or France can be good quality, we don’t distinguish between them,” Dr Prentice said.

Social media

Social media marketing appears to have a big influence on what brand of vodka was consumed. It also influences how frequently they’re likely to purchase the same brand.

“Social media has been acknowledged as being potentially the most powerful tool for marketing brands,” Dr Prentice said. “When consumers see their friends posting positively about a product or brand, that’s a big influence for them to purchase the same brand.

“Likewise, when consumers are engaging with a brand on social media they’re very likely to remain loyal to that brand.”

In other words, once you’ve ‘liked’ a brand on Facebook you’re much more likely to buy it in the future.

The research was published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services.

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