LONDON: Smirnoff remains the world's most-powerful spirits and wine brand but rivals are catching up fast, a new league table for the alcoholic drinks sector has revealed.

The 2011 Power 100, collated by Intangible Business, placed Smirnoff first on the rankings with an overall score of 88.9%. Bacardi was second and Johnnie Walker was third.

Now in its sixth year, the Power 100 is based on a combination of metrics, and is designed to highlight which spirits and wine brands generate the most value for their owners.

A panel of drinks experts score individual brands from one to 10 on a combination of "hard measures", including market share, future growth and price positioning, and "soft measures", including brand awareness and relevancy.

These scores are then multiplied by the brand's weighted volume to get the total score used on the rankings.

Smirnoff's overall score for 2011, while enough for the brand to retain its top position, represents a 5% decline from last year. This includes a 1% fall in volume, a 2% drop in brand reputation and a 4% drop in brand value.

The Intangible Business noted that Smirnoff's "middle of the road" branding strategy was proving to be a turn-off for some consumers.

Other vodka brands did particularly well this year. Absolut rose two positions to fifth and Svedka was the single biggest riser, up 17 places.

Smirnoff's top spot could even be under threat next year on current trends, with second-placed Bacardi's overall score up 5% in 2011.

"Bacardi is helped by being almost synonymous with the rum market in general, which has made it a back bar staple and versatile cocktail ingredient helping build its position in the off-trade too," the report said.

Stuart Whitwell, joint managing director of Intangible Business, said: "Consumers have also been exposed to and experimented with more value-orientated brands, developing a wider repertoire of options rather than sticking to the old favourites.

"Whilst many of the big brands have been able to withstand much of this pressure there are signs that times are changing."

Over 10,000 alcohol brands were considered for the Intangible Business rankings.

Data sourced from Intangible Business; additional content by Warc staff