Russian Standard's now going for Gold

19 September, 2008

Ginseng vodka adds to fastest-growing brand

Russian Standard is diversifying its offering with the launch of a vodka containing ginseng extract.

Russian Standard Gold

will be positioned between the

entry-level

Original and mid-end Platinum. It has only been available in the Russian market for the past two weeks, but OLN has learn ed there are plans to introduce it in the UK.

The firm's Russian-based director of communications, Preston Mendenhall, said: "In Russia, ginseng has mythical qualities bringing vigour and vitality. Next year we will start exporting [Gold] from Russia to all export markets.

"Russia Standard has been in the UK for a year - first we will find solid ground for brands that are there, then certainly introduce Gold."

Owned by billionaire businessman Roustam Tariko, Russian Standard was this year's highest new entry in the top 50 off-trade spirits brands with sales of just under £13 million.

Since its UK launch in June 2007, it has also become the sixth best-selling vodka brand, helped by an £8 million marketing investment from UK distributor First Drinks Brands.

Ginseng is derived from the root of the ginseng plant and is commonly used as an ingredient in energy drinks, but Mendenhall said: "We are not claiming to be an energy drink. It's a traditional Russian vodka with extracts of ginseng. It's really a vodka for celebrations. It comes in a fantastic gift box and one of the targets in Russia is people giving gifts."

He added that Gold is not a flavoured vodka

and said Russian Standard had no plans to dilute the image of its brand with flavoured additions. "I feel you go to flavoured vodka when you have plateaued, when you need something else to keep selling your brand."

Russian Standard's entire portfolio is distilled and bottled in St Petersburg. The £35 million distillery opened in Oct 2006, with last year's sales standing at 1.9 million nine-litre cases.

Sales are expected to reach between 2.2 million and 2.5 million cases this year, according to Mendenhall, who added that the company is planning to expand

in 2009 with a new distribution centre

next to the distillery.




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