British help Tatspirtprom to add fruits to vodka

The company paid 40 thousand pounds to the British bureau Williams Murray Hamm Limited for the design of a line of strong cocktail beverages

British help Tatspirtprom to add fruits to vodka
Photo: Maksim Platonov

As it became known to Realnoe Vremya, one of the largest alcohol producers in the country, Tatspirtprom JSC, decided to experiment at the end of the year — they have launched a line of fruit vodkas for sale. Flavoured spirits under the TM Paradigma brand are the brainchild of the new marketing team of former Nefis alumnus Yury Karyakin, who went to Tatspirtprom to develop the business at the beginning of last year. The design of the new products was developed by British bureau Williams Murray Hamm Limited for 40 thousand pounds. It is still unclear how the “restyling” of the Tatspirtprom brand portfolio will show itself, but so far the manufacturer has not had a successful experience in creating a premium brand, experts say.

Tatspirtprom longing for fruits

The new marketing team of Tatspirtprom JSC, which left the structures of Nefis, has developed the vodka brand — ТМ Paradigma — at the end of the year. Vodka varieties enriched mainly with fruit flavors have been created under this brand. Experts call them “coloured” or flavoured vodkas, which differ in additional taste due to fruit additives or essences based on them.

The logo and promotion strategy of the new flavoured vodka was developed by British design bureau Williams Murray Hamm Limited, which is known for working closely with the European luxury alcohol manufacturer Pernod Ricard. For example, the designers of the company have developed the brand of premium vodka Absolut. As Realnoe Vremya found out, the cost of the transaction with WMH was 40 thousand pounds.

The first batches of fruit vodka are already being delivered to retail chains of Tatarstan and beyond. According to Kazan distributors, Tatspirtprom products are in the middle price segment, that is, slightly higher than the mass inexpensive Tatarstan vodka.

According to the tastes of the young

“This is a modern vodka brand, which is designed for young people under the age of 35, innovators, adherents of 'everything new," the press service of Tatspirtprom explained to Realnoe Vremya, designating the target audience of the “coloured” vodka. “Besides, the brand is designed for men 35-45 years old who pay attention to the price-quality ratio.

The manufacturer itself prefers to call vodka not coloured, but cocktail one. According to them, it is a multifunctional brand, it “can be used as a basis for cocktails, and as an independent drink”. The assortment consists of five fruit flavours (watermelon, pomegranate, grapefruit, lime), as well as one variety with the taste of green tea. “Each drink is made from infusions of natural fruits. Filtration through the moonstone mineral restores the crystal lattice of water in the composition and enriches it with valuable trace elements, thereby allowing the delicate fruit flavour to open as much as possible. In the Russian market, it is one of the first products in the category of fruit vodkas," the company's marketers said.

Speaking about the logo, Tatspirtprom press service reported that the design was made “in the concept of Bar edition”, with a fluorescent element on the necklace with a reflective effect.

Manufacturer itself prefers to call vodka not coloured, but cocktail one. Photo: Maksim Platonov

New brand from Nefis marketers

This is the first vodka brand that appeared after the new team of top managers headed by Ruslan Maksudov joined Tatspirtprom a year ago. As the participants of the alcohol market told Realnoe Vremya, the anti-crisis team of Tatspirtprom was formed from different Tatarstan entities. For example, Andrey Feoktistov, the deputy director general for economics and finance, is a native of Ak Bars Bank, and the key positions in sales and marketing were occupied by invited top managers from Nefis Group of Companies, for example, Yury Karyakin, who previously headed Nefis-Bioproduct JSC.

According to Kazan alcohol distributors, the transition to fruit varieties of vodka may be related to the previous experience of new Tatspirtprom marketers, who experimented a lot with adding exotic fruits to expand the range of sauces. The Tatarstan State Alcohol Inspectorate does not yet know what the taste of the new vodka is, the professionals have not tasted it, but they promised to include it in the plan for next year.

Meanwhile, vodka sales in Tatarstan remain slightly below last year's level. According to the State Alcohol Inspectorate of the Republic of Tatarstan, for 11 months of 2021, 2,4 million dal of vodka has been sold to the population of Tatarstan, or 96% compared to the same period last year. But the volume of imported vodka has increased. During the same period, 327,7 thousand dal or 103% of the 2020 level were sold in the republic.

According to the State Alcohol Inspectorate of the Republic of Tatarstan, for 11 months of 2021, 2,4 million dal of vodka has been sold to the population of Tatarstan, or 96% compared to the same period last year. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

At the same time, Tatspirtprom continues to remain a leader in terms of revenue. According to the results of 2020, the company is the first in Russia in terms of sales of vodka and alcoholic beverages among 77 manufacturers, it follows from the rating of the specialised magazine Vodka Premium. According to their data, the revenue of the Tatarstan manufacturer amounted to 12 billion rubles. The second place was taken by Synergia Group of Companies (Moscow Oblast) with revenue of 9,1 billion rubles, the third — United Penza Plants (8 billion rubles). The total revenue of all vodka producers by the results of 2020 is 134,6 billion rubles.

However, in the annual ranking of the most popular alcoholic brands in the world, Millinaires Club, other Russian vodka brands dominate. According to market participants, the tragically deceased Irek Minnakhmetov repeatedly spoken about the desire to develop a new premium vodka, which was supposed to be the pinnacle of Tatspirtprom production, but did not have time to implement the plans.

Meanwhile, the new team decided to focus on developing the brand in the middle price segment. The idea of developing the new brand for coloured vodka in Tatspirtprom was explained by the changed preferences of customers.

“The launch of the new vodka line is associated with the new trend — 'bar at home'," said the press service of Tatspirtprom. “We've noticed that the popularity of 'cocktail' types of alcohol is growing. Consumers' desires are changing, they are increasingly choosing vodka with taste.

Where the “cocktail” vodka is bottled and in what volume it is planned to be produced has not yet been reported. Probably, marketers expect sales results.

“Why do only bitches drink vodka?"

Anna Galimova, the head of the Centre for Alcohol Reforms Effectiveness, former chairman of the Alcohol Association of the Republic of Tatarstan, ex-member of the board of directors of Tatspirtprom, noted that Tatspirtprom still works on a portfolio of brands developed in the mid-2000s under Georgy Kupriyanov: “These are Russkaya Valyuta and Tundra, which continue to keep sales, Grand Ledoff has slightly deflated, and in the premium segment — Khanskaya.”

In turn, Stanislav Kaufman, the head of the Kaufman branding agency, noted that Khanskaya clearly has underworked:

“Then there was an incomprehensible vodka brand Akdov, then Sterva (“Bitch”), which was produced with a box with the image of a red female lipstick. I still don't understand why only bitches should buy. These experiments were not close to the results," he said.

“Indeed, the female vodka Sterva referred to that only strong-willed women drink vodka. It was a strange message," agrees Anna Galimova.

According to experts, developing brands for mayonnaise and vodka are still different activities and it's better not to touch what works well.

Flavoured vodkas — on the shelf with competitors

Flavoured vodkas are the desire to expand the current line, according to market participants.

“Many vodka companies produce flavoured vodkas, but there are isolated cases when coloured vodkas show a higher result than ordinary vodka," Stanislav Kaufman emphasised. “This is not the strengthening of any one position, but only the brand of the portfolio. They enter a niche in which they believe they are not fully represented.”

“Tatspirtprom repeats the marketing trends that have been tested by other brands. The share of coloured vodkas accounts for about 10% of sales. This kind of vodka is more focused not on the Russian consumer, but on the Western one, where there is a different culture of consumption. They have stronger habits for coloured vodkas than we do. In our country, the segment is narrow. There is no mass tradition either. The rejection of this product did not happen by chance," says another market participant Andrey Valentinov, who was engaged in the development of vodka distribution in Tatarstan.

In his opinion, own difficulties await Tatspirtprom on this path. For example, additives in vodka automatically shorten its shelf life, and this should be indicated on the label.

80% of buyers do not know what the word “paradigm” means

Market participants consider the unfortunate name to be the weakest point of Tatarstan coloured vodka.

“Vodkas usually have either a poetic name or a simple and specific one. For example, Russian Standard, as the standard of high-quality vodka, Beluga is associated with black caviar, as the height of luxury, Onegin. But what kind of paradigm can be embedded inside vodka? It's hard to imagine what's inside this bottle. I wouldn't like want to criticise indiscriminately, maybe there is a whole marketing strategy there, but if you look at it head—on, it's unclear — 80% of buyers don't know what the word “paradigm” means. The customer in the store has a few seconds to contact to choose a Paradigm or Khortytsia. Vodka marketing is a concrete thing, it's not just a beautiful design, but the whole philosophy of the company. But if you lag behind in marketing, then you are lag behind the market," Valentinov is convinced.

“This line will definitely not become the locomotive of Tatspirtprom's sales," concluded Anna Galimova.

Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan