Flavor Shuffle in Vodka

The flavor landscape in vodka is constantly changing. Identifying and aligning your drink menu with the flavors that have staying power while also capitalizing on the flavor of the moment is a challenge for all bar and restaurant operators. New flavored vodka launches are announced daily, it seems, as suppliers seek to hit on the Next Big Thing and stay one step ahead of the trends. For every flavor that gains traction with a fickle consumer base, another typically cycles out, and savvy operators must listen to their patrons, watch their backbars and read their sales reports closely to see what flavors are performing and which need to be replaced with the new.

Raspberry and citrus remained the leading vodka flavors in terms of volume in 2011, but their respective shares were eroded by some newcomers. Whipped cream exploded on the scene, going from not even on the radar to ranking third, according to our Special TAB Report: Vodka Category Close-up, released this week.  Peach and coconut also found favor with consumers, while strawberry and blueberry lost their luster.

Nearly three-quarters of the vodkas released last year were flavored, and the pace of innovation appears unabated in 2012. So does the rate of growth for the segment. Flavored vodka achieved a double-digit increase in 2011, and we expect more of the same in 2012, making flavored vodka a key driver of vodka overall. Indeed, this is a segment that requires close attention from operators. While many are vexed by the task of keeping up with all the new flavors flooding the market, our research shows that vodka-based cocktails are the most-frequently consumed spirits drinks in bars and restaurants, which also happens to be where they are most likely to try new drinks and products. Sounds like time well spent.

What vodka flavors are trending at your bar? Click here and let me know.


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