We’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but it turns out people very much judge a vodka by its bottle. Marketing firm Affinnova recently ran a “design audit” on 12 well-known vodka brands including Absolut, Belvedere, Ciroc, Grey Goose, Ketel One, New Amsterdam, Pinnacle, Skyy (limited-run bottle), Smirnoff, Stolichnaya, Svedka and Tito's. The team found that bottle shape and label design really do make a difference when it comes to customer appeal.
To conduct the study, Affinnova set up dual grocery aisles, one with nothing but brand names written on index cards and the other with the actual bottles on the shelves. The result was interesting but not all that surprising for the relatively neutral spirit category: When it comes to vodka, package outshines taste. According to the firm, several studies have shown that consumers become attached to a vodka brand based on marketing and advertising alone. And blind taste tests have shown that even self-proclaimed brand loyalists can’t pick their favorite vodka out of a lineup.