How Pernod Ricard Conceived Absolut Grapefruit

They ignited a new wave of vodka culture with their eye-popping ad campaigns in the late 1970s and ‘80s. They introduced a new spectrum of flavor possibilities to the spirit category and drove a Cosmo-ic frequency in the 1990s. They pinpointed ways to make vodka seem cool again to the hot hands of craft bartending in the early 2000s.

How can Absolut Vodka drive category innovation in the second decade of the 2000s? Instead of forcing a premium upgrade, they took a more linear approach by introducing a new flavor to their citrus lineup—grapefruit.

Don’t roll your cocktail shakers just yet; there’s more appeal to this twist of citrus. Taking note of consumer demand for fewer calories/less sugar, and taking stock of ingredients we can all pronounce, Absolut Grapefruit is made with natural flavors that don’t require added sugar. It weighs in at just 97 calories per 1.5 fluid ounce, as opposed to other flavored vodkas with much higher sugar content.

A Simple Splash

The product gives appeal to the vodka drinker looking to cut down on excess while still enjoying a pleasurable flavor experience—simply adding a splash of soda or tonic or enjoying it chilled or on the rocks. For those with loftier mixability goals, it’s also intended as a fresh-tasting base to explore a new trend of grapefruit-forward cocktails.

At a time when there is considerable competition for space on a back bar and store shelves, Brand Director Regan Clarke points out that Absolut Grapefruit fits squarely into current market demand and taste trends: “The new flavor reflects the growing consumer demand for refreshing, all-natural flavored vodkas, and citrus continues to be our top-selling flavor segment.”

Tangy Company

This intriguing new flavor should feel like a natural addition to Absolut’s existing citrus portfolio, joining Citron, Mandrin, Lime, and even Ruby Red. The point of distinction—and a key selling point—is Absolut Grapefruit’s drier character.

The flavor was conceived with a more conscientious public in mind. “Consumers continue to demand transparency from brands and are increasingly conscious about hidden sugars,” Regan adds. “Absolut Grapefruit is naturally sweetened with grapefruit flavor—with no added sugar or artificial coloring—offering a refreshing, deliciously sweet taste profile to complement a wide variety of simple or complex cocktails.”

Even though Sex In the City ended 14 years ago, the Cosmopolitan, made with Absolut Citron, is still widely popular. Absolut Lime launched with a focus on the simple Vodka and Soda. Absolut Grapefruit stays in the citrus family—could it also have its own signature cocktail? Regan sees it adding a twist to a neo classic: “The flavor of Absolut Grapefruit is so refreshingly simple and sweet, adding soda offers an easy, yet delicious cocktail but it can be also enjoyed in an Absolut Grapefruit Paloma.”

With the market poised for the new flavor, it’s time to roll out the promotional red carpet. Importer Pernod-Ricard is planning to vault Absolut Grapefruit into market with the same level of vigor as they launched Lime, spanning a ten-month period. The trade can expect bottles to first appear on shelves in July, with a print and digital advertising mix expected to go full-swing in this month.

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