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Q/A with Mara Washington: Mara Washington, director of brand activation, Absolut Vodka for Pernod Ricard USA, says the lemon/lime segment is outpacing the overall vodka category.

What is happening in the overall hard alcohol category now? What is driving sales at supermarkets in the category?

Mara Washington: The grocery channel is outpacing the total market in terms of growth over the past year by 5 percent. Specifically, cognac and tequila are the most dynamic growth categories, followed by whiskey. This is largely reflective of the overall general market.

How is Pernod Ricard USA faring in this environment?

Pernod Ricard USA is faring very well and is contributing to the overall growth of the grocery category. According to Nielsen, Pernod Ricard is the best performing major supplier over the last year, performing at 4.9 percent ahead of market in the grocery channels.

Talk about Pernod Ricard's Absolut Lime. Why should grocery retailers carry this new product?

Absolut Lime is the latest in Absolut's core range of flavors and extends Absolut's already powerful citrus range. Absolut Lime offers a balanced taste of natural lime flavor with a fresh, distinct note of freshly pressed lime and a smooth, fruity flavor.

For grocery retailers, Absolut Lime is a recipe for success. Vodka is the biggest, most shopped spirits category and citrus flavors are driving category growth and cocktail trends. Lime is a leading flavor in the most consumed cocktails, with the lemon/lime segment outpacing the overall vodka category. With Absolut Lime's simple drink strategy, it is poised for success within grocery. The majority of alcohol drinkers consume alcohol at home and have a preference for simple mixed cocktails. Absolut Lime is highly mixable and its fresh and balanced taste offers simplicity and premium quality and is a key ingredient in many of today's classic drinks with a refreshing twist.

How is Pernod Ricard supporting the introduction?

The Absolut Lime launch will be supported via numerous marketing initiatives. Recently, the spotlight shone on Absolut Lime as the brand refreshed "Music's Biggest Night," serving as the official spirits partner of the 59th GRAMMY Awards.

In addition, the launch of Absolut Lime will be supported with a robust media plan including national TV, billboards, partner integrations, digital and trade media, not to mention activation at the local level, winning consumers over with on-and off-premise sampling and key account programming. There will be no shortage of lime activation all summer long.

What do retailers need to do to succeed with Absolut Lime and the category in general?

Most importantly, retailers need the product. Absolut is a leader in flavor innovation, offering the No. 1 selling lemon vodka in Absolut Citron and the No. 1 selling orange vodka in Absolut Mandrin. Absolut Lime will expand an already powerful citrus flavor vodka portfolio with a growing flavor trend. Stocking shelves with a strong portfolio can lead to continued growth and higher basket rings.

Placing product on display also increases incremental consumer purchase. Absolut Lime will have eye-catching point-of-sale that speaks to the product's attributes and showcases the simple drink recipes that are appealing to consumers. Getting Lime and Absolut's citrus portfolio to the floor makes it easier for consumers to find and purchase the flavors for which they searching. Liquid-to-lips samplings and relevant cross merchandising partner offers help to educate consumers on how to make quick and easy cocktails as well as provide a one-stop solution for all shoppers' cocktail hosting needs. Consumers will be able to confidently recreate their favorite cocktails without all the work.
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Title Annotation:TALKING SHOP
Publication:Grocery Headquarters
Date:Mar 1, 2017
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