Italy’s Campari drink brand has been present on the Ukrainian market for many years. Since 2009, Gruppo Campari has also had its own business representation in the country, where it manages a range of beverage brands in addition to the celebrated Italian tipple. Business Ukraine magazine spoke to Campari’s Ukraine Country Director Kirill Sokolov about fashionable cocktails, expanding portfolios and the brand’s continued development on the Ukrainian market.
How has the Campari brand evolved over the years?
It goes without saying that the company is primarily associated with the famous bright red drink. These days, however, Campari should be viewed in a much broader context. The company has evolved over the years to become a global market leader. Campari was founded in 1860 - the year Gaspare Campari invented the bright red, bittersweet aperitif in downtown Milan. From 1888 onwards, his son and successor, Davide Campari, initiated efforts to grow the brand globally. This involved an innovative marketing strategy including the creation in 1932 of the first single–serve aperitif, Campari Soda, and patronage of the arts. By the 1960s, Gruppo Campari already distributed to over 80 countries.
In the second half of the 1990s, the international beverage industry witnessed a strong M&A trend, which led to the creation of corporations with global dimensions and diverse product portfolios. In this environment, Campari chose to expand not only via organic growth but also via external growth. In 1995, Campari transformed from a single brand company into a multinational with a solid and expansive portfolio. Gruppo Campari is currently a major player in the global branded beverage industry, with a portfolio of over 50 premium and super premium brands, marketed and distributed in over 190 markets around the world.
Campari and Aperol remain the group’s flagship brands, along with SKYY vodka, Wild Turkey bourbon and Appleton rum. For the past few years, Ukrainian consumers have been able to enjoy one of the world’s best single-malt whiskies, Glen Grant, as well as Old Smuggler blended Scotch whisky. Espolon tequila, which has already conquered Mexico and the United States, is now also available in Ukraine.
What is the corporate philosophy behind Gruppo Campari’s development?
Gruppo Campari’s growth strategy aims to combine organic growth through strong brand building, with shareholder value-enhancing acquisitions. Spirits are the company’s core business and where it focuses its acquisition efforts. The group’s strategic thinking is driven by the desire to reach or enhance critical mass in key geographic markets. Organic growth drivers include a focus on best-in-class marketing, periodical renewals of key local brands, and reinvestment into strategic brand building. External growth drivers include the acquisition of local brands with strong equity which allow for the building of new distribution networks.
What unites the brands in Campari’s portfolio?
Careful selection. It is easy to talk about the products offered by Gruppo Campari because all of them are top-quality offerings. Campari is always on the lookout for the latest trends. We study consumer preferences and try to stay realistic about the brand’s potential. All of this helps to drive growth.
Campari first became famous for its ad posters back in the 19th century. How do you maintain this artistic tradition?
Campari has always paid attention to the art world and this tradition remains very much alive in a number of contemporary projects such as the Campari Art Label and the Campari Calendar. This arts association is also tied to the Cinzano brand. Art has always been a core element of the Cinzano image, with a rich history of innovative, vibrant and socially relevant art partnerships spanning over 250 years.
How fashion-conscious is the world of drinks?
We are talking about a world just as dynamic and susceptible to fashion as other spheres of life – people want to try something new all the time and are always looking for new combinations. Campari is unique because it is mostly meant for use in cocktails. A range of Campari cocktails feature on the International Bartenders Association’s list of the top 20 best cocktails of the past century. Fashion can also be cyclical. We are now seeing the revival of classic cocktails like the Negroni - an old-school cocktail featuring Campari, Cinzano, red vermouth and gin that was invented more than a century ago.
What kind of policy does Gruppo Campari adhere to doing business in the Ukraine?
Our global mission is to remain a profitable and sustainable market leader in the global spirits industry by combining a passion for brand building with entrepreneurial drive and functional excellence. This applies equally to each and every country where the company operates. Gruppo Campari actively promotes a culture of responsible drinking. Our Group strongly condemns excessive, inappropriate or illegal consumption of alcohol. In spite of all the current challenges facing Ukraine, our Group strongly believes in the potential of the Ukrainian market. Tradition and innovation, global strategy and local execution will remain the fundamentals underpinning the Group`s long-term development in Ukraine.
About the interviewee: Kirill Sokolov is the Director of Campari Ukraine