Boxed Rosé and Flavored Vodka Lead the Way in New Product Releases

In Distillery by John Temple

In 2017 so far, Drizly has record of over a thousand new products launched. Much goes into the planning and execution of each one of these. Some are major successes, while others struggle to make an impression. We analyzed the top new product performers to get a sense of what is working.

The clear theme in this top 10 is the success of rosé and flavored vodka, taking up 7 of the top 10 spots. Rosé has of course been a smashing success this summer, and this whole year, as millennials have flocked to the pink liquid. A few major brands had previously been missing out on this craze until 2017 when they launched before summer rosé peaks arrived. The big winners here are boxed wines like Bota Box and Black Box. Today, rosé lags the rest of the wine category in terms of sales coming from boxed wines. However, with these key launches and shifting consumer demand, rosé has grown boxed wines to come up to par and even surpass the rest of the wine category.

Within the vodka category, major brands have had successful launches with their new flavors. Brands like Absolut, CÎROC, and Svedka are able to achieve national distribution to get the shelf space required to make a successful launch. Absolut’s launch of Absolut Lime is the brand’s first flavored vodka addition in four years. Though still behind the original Absolut unflavored vodka, Lime is on track to be Absolut’s top selling flavored line on Drizly this year, overtaking Absolut Citron. CÎROC’s limited edition release of its Summer Colada was also a success in the vodka category this year. At its peak in June and July, CÎROC Summer Colada actually became the brand’s top SKU, surpassing even the original CÎROC Vodka.

Looking at CÎROC Summer Colada specifically, buyers of the new vodka disproportionately had also bought other spirits such as rum, liqueurs, and, of course, vodka as compared to buyers of other vodkas on Drizly. Of the vodka buyers that tried CÎROC’s Sumer Colada, 28% of them had previously been CÎROC vodka consumers. This figure puts CÎROC Summer Colada near the high end of the spectrum relative to the other top boxed wines and vodkas which range from 9% to 30% of category sales coming from within the brand.

Despite the fact that flavored vodkas make it to the top of the charts, comprising 60% of new vodka product launches this year, flavored vodka only comprises 39% of the SKUs sold in a given month and 10% of vodka sales. While introducing new flavors of vodka can help increase attention and claim additional shelf space, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that 90% of vodka sales remain in unflavored SKUs.

When evaluating the health of a product, particularly a new product, we often look at the product’s repurchase rate. Repurchase rate is defined as: of all consumers who purchased a particular product, what percent purchased the product at least once more within the following 90 days. This gives us a sense for the loyalty and early success that a product has before a full year of sales have occurred.

This year to date, new product sales account for 1% of total sales on Drizly. New products have a bigger impact in beer (1.5% of sales), where consumers like to seek out new styles, and a smaller impact in liquor (0.7% of sales), where there is more concentration amongst major recognized brands. While small today, these successful new products of 2017 will grow into the established base of consumer preferences going forward.

It is important to note that there are likely some limited release or seasonal products, particularly in the beer category, that did not make this list because they do not have unique UPCs. To succeed in today’s world of alcohol eCommerce, having UPCs for each individual product release is paramount to allow retailers to properly stock, sell, and track the success of each product online. As suppliers move towards making more real-time data-driven decisions around their innovations, unique UPCs for every product will become table stakes.