SOBIESKI’S “TRUTH IN VODKA” AIMS TO OVERTHROW LUXURY COMPETITION

Polish-based Sobieski Vodka says it is entering the US “to overthrow overpriced vodkas,” through its sole importer Imperial Brands, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belvedere. Not only is Sobieski highlighting the low-retail price, but it’s playing on heritage as well. The brand is reportedly named after Poland’s King Jan III Sobieski who saved Europe from the Ottoman Empire.

Sobieski is the #1 premium vodka in Poland and the world’s 7th bestselling and fastest growing international spirits brand, said the company in a statement.

“Consumers are spending between $30 to $60 a bottle for so-called super- premium vodka…It’s time to get back to basics with an honest, premium vodka at a price that won’t make consumers’ heads swim,” said Chester Brandes, president and chief of Imperial Brands.

During a time of such heavy trading up, particularly in the vodka category, it will be interesting to see how well Sobieski does. Focusing on its heritage, though, is a good point of differentiation.

In the company’s press release, it acknowledges that Sobieski is being “introduced at a time when the vodka ‘wars’ are raging,” and points out that 60 new vodka brands were introduced in 2006 alone.

Their observation is certainly true as flavored vodkas, energy vodkas, colored vodkas and vodkas targeting women are just a few examples of what we’ve seen hit shelves in recent years.

“In this cluttered marketplace, companies are resorting to marketing gimmicks that focus on image rather than what’s in the bottle itself. As a result, consumers have become confused as to what exactly vodka is and why they are paying astronomical prices that seem unrelated to what is in the bottle.”

With a suggested retail price of $10.99 for a 750 ml bottle and $19.99 for a 1.75 liter bottle, Sobieski Vodka will be available this fall in major retail stores throughout the U.S. The marketing campaign accompanying Sobieski’s launch is entitled, “Truth-In-Vodka.”