Product Differentiation – Vodka
In 2005, I traveled to Russia. I went with a Russian friend who was excited to show me their homeland. Before going to Russia, I did not drink much Vodka. In fact, during my trip to Russia, I drank more Vodka than I probably had in my entire life. No meal was complete without a toast (or two) with chilled Vodka. Vodka is defined as “alcoholic liquor originally distilled from fermented wheat mash but now also made from a mash of rye, corn, or potatoes (Free Dictionary, 2013). Some people translate Vodka to mean water or water of life.
Brands can differentiate their products based upon size, form, performance, features, durability, reliability, ease of repair, design and style (Kotler & Keller, 2012). Three popular Vodka brands consumed in the United States include Absolut, Grey Goose, and Skyy. Each brand employs different tactics to differentiate itself from its competitors.
Absolut established in 1879 by Lars Olsson Smith is solely manufactured in Åhus, Sweden, a small town of 10,000 people. According to Absolut (2013), this brand differentiates itself as follows:
1. Form – Absolut Vodka is delivered in one-liter glass bottles. The Swedish Vodka brand shaped all their bottled in the likeness of an old Swedish medicine bottle (AbsolutAd, 1997). No labels are affixed to the bottle, so as to avoid covering up the product. Each bottle has a medallion of the face of the creator Lars Olsson Smith.
2. Features: Absolut offers seventeen different flavors of Vodka including Absolut Mandarin, Absolut Raspberri, and Absolut Citron (Liquor.Com, 2013). The brand website offers customers numerous recipes for making a variety of cocktails, including free apps for iPhone and iPad.
3. Style: Absolut has a deep tradition of collaboration with artists, starting with Andy Warhol who painted a picture of an Absolut Vodka bottle. Absolut has continued this tradition of collaborating with artists (painters, fashion designers, musicians) in marketing the Absolut Brand. In addition, they carry over their passion for the arts in the design of their bottles. Recently, Absolut launched limited edition bottles visually representing to customers what their brand represents. Using a spray-painted aesthetic, each limited edition bottle is unique in their styling from any other bottle. Using combinations from 35 colors and 51 patterns, Absolut manufactured over 4 million unique bottles.
a. All Absolut Vodka is manufactured in the same town in Åhus, Sweden using the same processes as when the company began in 1879
b. Natural ingredients, no added sugar
c. “One Source” philosophy. Absolut manufactures in one distillery, using one source for water and one source for their chief ingredient, winter wheat. Absolut sources their water and winter wheat from the same place in Åhus, Sweden. All the water used comes from a deep well in the town protected from outside impurities. The winter wheat is...