Case Study: Market Research Project

06 Vodka Rosé: market research, brand evaluation and feasibility study

In 2022 our client Comte De Grasse wanted to launch a new Vodka Rosé in the UK. They needed to know the commercial opportunity for the brand to support  their business plan and demand planning. Comte De Grasse asked us to use our industry expertise to help them understand the market’s reaction to the product, the vodka category in the UK, the potential demand and rate of sale that could be expected for the product and if there were any trends in the UK vodka category which could affect the brand positively or negatively. 

We then used this feedback to advise our client on what resources would be required to make 06 Vodka Rosé a success in the UK market.  

Task

Up to this point, Comte De Grasse had only made one product which was an ultra-premium gin, targeted at a different end of the market. 

Unlike gin, the vodka category is heavily dominated by a few, large brands so Comte De grasse were keen to understand the potential for the product in the UK. They thought there was huge potential for their new Vodka Rosé, but was that realistic? We needed to ensure that the product appealed to bartenders and buyers, to confirm that there was a realistic chance that a new vodka could compete with more established global brands and that there was a rate of sale to ensure reasonable returns. We were well positioned to do the research and provide on-the-ground insights via our network of hospitality professionals in the target market.  

This market insight was ultimately going to be used in their business planning, for fundraising, setting global forecasts and associated marketing budgets for the brand. It would also form the basis of our sales and marketing strategy when it came to bringing the product to market.   

Action

Being a completely new style of vodka (using technology to extract the flavour of rosé wine) we conducted primary research on the brand.

First, we worked out what we wanted to find out from the research to answer the brief and ensure we got accurate and actionable information we could use to inform both the brand and our launch strategy.  We designed a questionnaire which covered topics such as competitors, their experience of the vodka market specific to their style of organisation, product positioning feedback, their decision making process on vodka and how the product could potentially be sold/served in their venues. 

At each point we were careful not to give leading answers and we deliberately kept the brand name, visuals and pricing anonymous until we were prepared to reveal it, so as not to influence respondents’ decisions.  

 

The questionnaire was sent out to some of our key customers across the hospitality sector to get a broad view of the market. Respondents were incentivised to complete the survey by being the first to receive a bottle once the product was available and by playing an integral part in a brand launch.  

In total we received 20 responses from hotels, cocktail bars, retailers and department stores. Some of these customers were:

  • Claridges Hotel (5 Star Hotel)
  • Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (5 Star Hotel)
  • Hampton Manor (5 Star Hotel)
  • Fortnum and Mason (Department Store)
  • Nectar Imports (Wholesaler)
  • Inception Group (Bar Group)
  • Nightjar (Cocktail Bar)
  • The Bottle Club (Online Retailer)
  • Spirits Kiosk (Online Retailer)
  • Tipples of Manchester (Independent Retailer)

We also conducted pricing research. looking at competitors’ pricing in the vodka category to ensure the product was set up for success. 

With a wealth of research at our fingertips we interpreted the data into a comprehensive report for the brand.  We split the feedback into digestible sections making recommendations along the way. These sections were; 1) The Competitor landscape, 2) Category Trends and Opportunities 3) Relevance and suitability depending on customer type, 4) Product specific feedback, 5) Pricing feedback, 6) What would be required to make the product a success.

We then took these results and crafted a drink serve strategy and marketing strategy to maximise awareness and grow sales. We used the information to inform what support and marketing budgets we would require for a successful brand launch.   

Result

The survey gave the brand confidence that the new product could be popular in the market, but not without its challenges.   We found that 61.5% of on-trade venues surveyed had complete freedom to choose the vodkas they serve and 64% of venues were interested in stocking the product. 40% of respondents said that the 06 Vodka Rosé looks better than other vodkas and 85% of respondents rated the product 4 or 5 out of 5 (Stands out better than other vodkas). 

However, 72% of stocking decisions will require brand support despite flavour being identified as the most important decision making factor. Feedback from the independent retailers surveyed, showed that vodka was not a particularly popular category amongst their customers. Some of our research also suggested that consumers may be confused by the concept; either mistaking it for a wine or sparkling wine.

The questionnaire responses were crucial in helping us to provide more accurate forecast volumes which the brand used for business planning purposes. 

We were able to share anecdotal feedback we received from the respondents which all resulted in a really compelling research project on the product. For the brand it was hugely valuable to hear the reception to the product and for us, the insights really helped to develop our strategy. We were able to determine which types of accounts to focus on and build a targeted support campaign with the brand to deliver the results they wanted.  

The results of this targeted approach spoke for themselves. When we launched the product in July 2022, our sales were 100% above forecast in the first two months. With our activation plan, we were able to launch into the Aubaine restaurant group’s five sites with a perfect serve insert menu and a terrace takeover in Aubaine Notting Hill. This project clearly demonstrates the value of comprehensive market research when launching a drinks product.  Imagine how this could help your next spirits brand launch?

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Respondees to our survey from hotels, cocktail bars, retailers and department stores

%

on-trade venues surveyed had complete freedom to choose the vodkas they serve

The Competitor landscape, Category Trends and Opportunities, Relevance and suitability, Product specific feedback, Pricing feedback, What would be required to make the product a success?

bbb’s market research project on our new 06 Vodka Rosé was comprehensive and we got exactly the feedback we needed from the customers we were looking to target. Knowing the feedback gave us confidence in the product and our launch strategy

Bhagath Reddy, CEO, Comte De Grasse

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