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Exciting future for vodka in Africa - CEO

Mar 22 2016 16:41
Carin Smith

Cape Town - Charles Gibbs, president and CEO of Belvedere Vodka, recently visited Cape Town and Fin24 had the opportunity to check in with him on trends in the industry.

What is the state of the vodka market globally at the moment?

Vodka remains one of the most dynamic categories around the world, with accelerated growth in the luxury and premium end of the market and consumers seeking greater quality. Eastern Europe remains the home of vodka, although the US market remains one of the largest in the world.

Poland, as the birthplace of vodka, is the only country where the production of vodka is strictly controlled and as such has the highest standards within the market. At Belvedere, we grow 100% of our rye on Polish soil, we own an artesian well for our water supply, and there are zero additives in the vodka.
 
What is the state of the vodka market in Africa?

The market in Africa is rapidly emerging as consumers seek the most modern drinks, as females consume more and as mixed drinks and cocktails emerge further. Northern Africa, Nigeria along with South Africa are all rapid growth markets.

What is the state of the vodka market in South Africa?

We’re seeing exciting growth in South Africa at present, hence my visit here. There is dynamic growth at the luxury end of the category, led by both the nightlife, along with high image quality bars and restaurants.

There’s an increasing number of high quality cocktails appearing, and an overall greater appreciation of high end brands. The trends here are being led by many of the global trends, such as the trend towards reduced sugar, naturalness and simpler drinks. These all play to Belvedere with our authentic Polish roots and zero additives.

What are the opportunities for the vodka market in Africa and South Africa?

The opportunities in Africa and South Africa remain huge in the medium and longer term, aligned with consumer trends, premiumisation and naturalness. The greatest opportunities are for education and building a deeper understanding of the differences between vodkas as well as continued innovation to excite people. This applies more specifically in the nightlife sector where consumers are seeking an experience, excitement and "theatre".
 
What are the challenges?

Currently many of the challenges are beyond our control, with the commodity pricing and currency impacting the market at many levels. That said, we see massive potential in the market, and plan to continue to invest for the medium and longer term.

The challenges are expanding the distribution base for the brand, along with ensuring that our messaging reaches the final consumers, no matter where they are. Differentiation is key and continuing to deliver innovation that excites, such as our illuminated bottles and  Silver Sabres are key here.

In addition, dynamic global marketing partnerships that elevate the brand further, such as the recent support of the latest James Bond film, Spectre. Finally, consumers are seeking brands that have a strong social and environmental agenda.

At Belvedere we are very proud of our RED partnership which is a global platform that benefits African markets hugely, with 50% of our profits from the sale of every RED bottle going to fight disease in Africa. Finally we’ve reduced our carbon emissions by 45% per case in the past six years.

What are trends among consumers of vodka in Africa and South Africa?

Currently our business would be more focused on urban areas, with further expansion potential across the market. Massive changes have already taken place, with many more to come as brands expand and penetrate the market at every level.

What is the future of vodka and why would someone choose it over other options?

Vodka has an exciting future, in particular in Africa, since it’s the most dynamic and flexible spirit, suiting consumers' tastes on multiple occasions and being the most dynamic of all categories.

retail  |  drinks  |  alcohol
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