Diageo triumphs in brand battle

19 October 2011

LONDON: Diageo has triumphed over major competitor Pernod Ricard when it comes to owning the top-performing international spirits brands, according to new research.

Just Drinks, the trade title, and IWSR, the insights provider, assessed 109 multinational brands in terms of their volume and value sales, five-year growth figures and perceptions resulting from a survey of industry executives.

Diageo, the UK-based manufacturer, had 20 brands in this list, ahead of its French rival, Pernod Ricard, with 17. Jim Beam posted a score of 10 on this measure and Bacardi claimed a total of seven.

Johnnie Walker, Diageo's scotch whisky, led the charts, having seen organic and volume sales both rise by 11% in the year to June, making this offering the largest single contributor to its parent company's overall expansion.

The industry experts questioned for the study also believed it possessed the highest potential for gaining market share and penetration, on 3.7 points out of five.

Gavin Pike, Johnnie Walker's global brand director, said: "Reasons for its success of course start with the great liquid, but the astute marketing acumen and advertising have helped to build the iconic value of the brand."

Smirnoff vodka, also made by Diageo, was in second, and sold 28.3m units across the 12 months ending in June. One of its recent efforts to encourage loyalty is the Nightlife Exchange, letting web users in 14 countries swap tips about places to visit.

"Through our marketing we seek to find the most exciting and engaging ways to connect with our consumers, from global platforms …. to strong local market initiatives," said Michelle Klein, Smirnoff's VP, global content and communications.

Absolut, another vodka brand, occupied third spot, and was the leading product from Pernod Ricard. It witnessed a 5.4% increase in sales during 2010, the study reported, generating returns to $2.7bn in the process.

Its core strengths were all argued to have been established in the 1980s, such as using a striking bottle design, "trendy" advertising and promoting associations with the worlds of fashion and art.

The business leaders polled also handed Absolut the best rating regarding innovation, on 3.7 points out of five, not least thanks to its introduction of flavoured and premium lines.

Pernod Ricard's other successes included Chivas Regal in sixth and Ballantine's in seventh, while Captain Morgan and Baileys took fifth and eighth in turn for Diageo. Hennessy, made by LVMH, and Jack Daniel's, owned by Brown-Forman, completed the top ten.

Data sourced from Just Drinks; additional content by Warc staff