Created by the experienced marketing mind of Sidney Frank and released in 1997, Grey Goose was one of the first vodkas to target the super-premium market, and has achieved success that has surprised everyone, including the creator.
At the time, Grey Goose gained notoriety for its unheard of price of $30 a bottle where its closest competitor, Absolut, was only charging $17. Rather than being a costly oversight by the producers, the high price of the product was a deliberate act to illustrate the impressive quality of Grey Goose compared to its competition. As an added benefit, the mark-up was all profit.
To increase the differentiation from the products already on the market, Grey Goose was produced in France, playing on the notion that products from France are of a higher quality, and are more refined. Sidney Frank used relationships built after retailing cognac in the United States for many years to build agreements with produces to use unneeded stills to produce the vodka required.
Increasing the brand's image further, Sidney Frank chose a high quality, frosted bottle that would capture the eye when behind the bar, combined with a corked lid, which was associated in the US with high quality wines. Continuing the link with wine, Grey Goose cases are transported in wooden crates, not the cardboard boxes typical of vodka.
Thanks to these initiatives undertaken by Sidney Frank, Grey Goose became associated around the world as the best vodka available, and soon the brand's advertising reflected this fact. In 1998 the Beverage Testing Institute declared Grey Goose as the best-tasting vodka available.
Sales soared, with 1.4 million cases of the vodka being sold in the US market in 2002. However, the brand no longer has complete control of the super-premium vodka market, with Absolut and Stolichnaya releasing products to compete in the market category.
In 2004, Grey Goose once again made headlines when it was announced that Bacardi would purchase the brand for a staggering $2 billion – making it one of the largest brand purchases every made, and giving Bacardi instant access to the competitive vodka market.
Today, Grey Goose continues to grow with the help of Bacardi, expanding dramatically into international markets, and has become one of the best known brands of vodka in the ultra-premium marketing segment.
Just after the brand's release, Sidney Frank faced severe criticism from many in the liquor industry that his business method of targeting the ultra-premium vodka market was flawed and would result in the failure of the company. These critics where silenced by the success of the brand.
Grey Goose has also faced criticism, from its advertising campaigns – in particular its claims of being the best tasting vodka in the world. Due to its claims, the brand has faced legal action from Millennium Import Company, which is the primary importer of the Polish brand, Belvedere into the US, which claims that the advertisements where directly misleading. This claim was given strength due to reduced scores of Grey Goose when compared to Belvedere by industry rating bodies.
Ultimately, Millennium Import Company was successful in gaining an injunction preventing Grey Goose using the claim.
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