Ontario gets Nude in October

The vodka brand will debut in the LCBO this month, tapping into the growing low cal, low sugar trend.

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One could say the brand is “baring down” on the Ontario market. Nude Vodka, a spirit which bills itself as the country’s first sugar-free 5% vodka, is hitting local shelves this October to ride the wave of low-cal spirits.

Nude, a brand with a minimalist lower-case font aesthetic, will debut in the Ontario market in select LCBO locations with its Vodka Soda Mixer 12-Pack, which includes Classic Lime, reminiscent of a traditional vodka soda; Peach, Raspberry Lemon, featuring raspberry flavour sparkles and a hint of lemon; and Mango, a natural essence of ripe mango.

nude-vodka2In a company release, Nude Vodka CEO Julius Makarewicz said the brand plans to introduce the rest of its portfolio to Ontario shortly, supporting demand for what he called “guilt-free indulgences” (the line contains 100 calories, no carbs, zero sugar and zero sweeteners).

He tells strategy that the brand is primarily driving awareness via in-store tastings: “As a small business, especially in our early start-up days, this has been one of our biggest tactics we have employed to gain word-of-mouth promotion and connect direct with our customers,” Makarewicz says.

He adds that the branding and packaging is clean and minimalist, which draws the eye at shelf-level.

“We launched with our white can [for the sugar-free Vodka product] as it symbolized health and purity. We wanted to keep it simple, like our product. We will always keep this clean branding as our key identifier,” Makarewicz says.

In B.C., he says, the brand uses shelf talkers and works retailers to build prominent displays in store. Makarewicz says it is working with LCBO to identify the opportunities within its stores and that it will work within the LCBO guidelines and requirements for traditional marketing efforts in the region, such as billboards.

“We have been heavily involved in sponsoring cultural events that align with our brand and demographic,” he says, citing the sponsorship of the Squamish Music Festival as an example. There, the brand was on site with a Nude booth that gave out product sampling, as well as engaged consumers through games like Nude jumbo Jenga, chill zones with sun chairs and Nude swag, he says. “This allowed us to connect with our target customer in an authentic way.”

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“In addition, we are heavily involved in our community, making sure we have a presence at local charitable or cultural events,” he says. The brand has donated over $75,000 to charity partner the BC SPCA, helping to cover costs of organizational operations, as well as medical bills of animals requiring life-sustaining treatments. Makarewicz notes that the brand will be providing in-kind donations of its product and activating on-site at the BC SPCA gala in Vancouver.

Makarewicz says that in Ontario, its biggest competition is Social Lite, an Ontario-based brand that is already established in the market with its no sugar, no sweetener, naturally gluten-free offering.

According to the release, the brand’s entry into the domestic space represents a key opportunity, with spirits claiming the largest portion of LCBO product sales in 2018 at $2.4 billion, or 38.6% of total sales.

Since debuting in 2017, the company says it has sold over 30 million of its sleek white cans throughout B.C. and Alberta, posting more than $70 million in retail sales and helping to inspire the subsequent launch of several vodka soda brands.

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