In Q1 2021, sales of BELUGA GROUP's flagship brand in the US exceeded the figures for the same period in 2020 by 59%. The share of high-margin products in the brand's sales also increased: Beluga Gold Line – from 11% in Q1 2020 to 12% in Q1 2021, Beluga Allure – from 3% to 6%.
The study made by the analytical agency IRI reported Beluga as one of the fastest-growing vodka brands in the US in the off-trade channel: its dynamic for Q1 was + 54%, while Beluga Gold Line became one of the top 100 ultra-premium vodka brands in the country. Total sales in key chains, i.e., Total Wine & More, ABC, Albertsons and Kroger, increased by 46%. In the on-trade channel, which is gradually recovering from the pandemic, sales increased by 93% as the dynamic development of the brand continued in e-commerce and digital.
In addition, results in Canada have more than doubled — sales in this large and promising vodka market rose 125% by Q1 2020.
Alexander Mechetin, Chief Executive Officer of BELUGA GROUP, commented on these achievements as follows: "Our flagship brand Beluga continues to develop in the major North American market at a rapid pace. In addition to the sales growth, it is worth noting a significant increase in brand awareness: today it is regarded as ultra-premium by consumers in the US and Canada, and we continue to work on enhancing the reputation. Our strong performance in these important vodka markets has been driven by a combination of factors.
First off, it was due to a proven distribution strategy. Targeted cluster distribution with an emphasis on volume-generating accounts in each of the focus states and well-established communication with partners, combined with high standards of retail presence and a competitive pricing policy, contributed to growth in US chains by 46% and an increase in product off-take by 14%. Double-digit growth was recorded in major states: + 83% in Illinois, + 80% in Florida, +75% in Texas, + 48% in California, and + 30% in New York. Sales in New Jersey, Arizona, Washington DC, Nevada, and Colorado are up 40% or more, reaching 200% in some areas.
The second factor is the active development of digital and e-commerce throughout the pandemic. In the US, e-commerce as a whole has tripled over the past year, while accounts with their own online platforms are making a significant contribution — more than a third — to Beluga's sales. With the launch of cooperation with the largest marketplaces, such as reservebar.com and minibar.com this year, this share will continue to grow. Digital campaigns, geographically targeted at major states, have a strong impact on increasing brand awareness among American customers.
The third important factor is the gradual on-trade recovery: + 93% by Q1 2020. The priority territories for the channel’s development include the city of New York, the states of Florida, Illinois, and Nevada. The team's active efforts are focused on working with national accounts — for example, we launched cooperation with NOBU, the world-famous chain of premium restaurants — and increasing our presence in premium on-trade establishments in Las Vegas.
I would like to note the inclusion of Beluga in the authoritative American ratings. Given the results of Q1, the analytical agency IRI recognized our flagship brand as one of the fastest-growing vodka brands in the USA in the off-trade channel: the dynamics came to +54%. In addition, in January this year, four products of the flagship brand was highly praised by the eminent magazine Wine Enthusiast: Beluga Gold Line received 94 points, Beluga Allure – 93 points, Beluga Noble and Beluga Transatlantic – 92 points each.
And last but not least, our success wouldn't have been possible without the Beluga North America team and their towering expertise in U.S. sales. The division has tripled over the past year — up to 18 people. Thanks to the high-quality work of employees in our brand offices strategically located in all the country’s major territories, Beluga is developing at an outstanding pace, not simply increasing its sales volumes, but surpassing its competitors in dynamics".