spirits

Grey Goose Seeks 'Relatability' While Taking On 'Dumbed Down' Vodka

Grey Goose’s made-in-France, better-than-the-rest positioning launched a “super-premium” vodka revolution in the United States back in 1997, and served the brand well for many years.

But that same positioning has begun to limit the brand’s growth in recent years.

Grey Goose suffered a 13.3% volume decline, to 3.4 million cases, in 2017, according to Spirit Business’s Brand Champions report.

Although “premiumization” is driving dollar sales growth in spirits in general, within the vodka segment — which has been challenged overall by millennials’ adoption of brown spirits — young adults have increasingly turned to Texas-produced Tito’s and Deep Eddy, and other brands touting craft-like quality at below-super-premium price points.

In response, parent Bacardi International has launched a new global platform — not a campaign, but a positioning meant to be a foundation for all marketing through the next 10 years, stressed Grey Goose’s Chief Marketing Director Lee Applbaum, who refers to the initiative as a brand “reset.”

Grey Goose sounds almost resentful of consumers who have decided that they don’t necessarily need to buy into the status game when they’re kicking back with a drink.

“It's ironic that today's consumer values product quality and brand transparency more than ever, but their purchase behavior suggests a willingness to compromise on both," declared Lee Applbaum, Grey Goose’s global chief marketing officer, in the platform’s announcement.

“’Good enough' has become a norm in the category, which has been dumbed-down through price compression and clever, but often misleading marketing,” he continued. “Grey Goose is a luxury product, but this positioning has also impaired our ability to fully connect with consumers; more often, they reserve Grey Goose for very special occasions.”

The new platform, “Live Victoriously,” aims to “answer consumers’ demand for more authentic and relatable luxury brands,” in recognition that “personal fulfillment is no longer achieved by simply impressing others, but rather by celebrating the moments that matter to one personally — big or small,” in Grey Goose’s words. The message: “You [the consumer] are the special occasion, and every moment is an opportunity to create a lifelong memory.”

That’s certainly a departure from the brand’s previous campaigns — 10 in 10 years — which have continued to emphasize the vodka’s French origin and snob appeal.

Yet, Applbaum has declared that Grey Goose will not seek to abandon its premium positioning — maintaining that its problem is not price, but a lack of “emotional connectivity” with consumers — but  will instead seek to rehabilitate the vodka category as a whole, so that price is no longer “the leading driver of preference.” 

The category "has lost a lot of what makes it special and unique, and the industry — and Grey Goose is no exception — has done itself a disservice by not differentiating one vodka brand from another," Applbaum elaborated to The Spirits Business. "It’s a sea of sameness in many ways.”  

The first round of creative under the new platform, from MullenLowe U.S., includes 15- and 30-second TV spots (example below) showing young adults reveling in various creative and partying moments, with screen messaging urging this target audience to live like “you’re the special occasion… every day is your birthday… your song just came on… your phone doesn’t exist,” and so forth.

The spots will air through June across cable entertainment networks, primetime TV and sports programming, according to the brand.

The push also includes out-of-home executions in markets including New York, Chicago, L.A., Miami, Washington, D.C, Las Vegas and Atlanta; print ads in Esquire, Rolling Stone and Food & Wine Magazine, among others; and content partnerships with hubs including Hulu, Spotify, The Skimm and HypeBeast.

In addition, GreyGoose.com now includes greater interactivity and more custom content.

Publicis Sapient was tapped to handle global digital and social strategy.

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