Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

February 22, 2023


15 most popular beverage brands in Italy, Spain, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia

Martin Müller

Content Lead

Also available in other languages

In our age, we take globalization as a given. Modern economies are highly interconnected. But what about brands? Is the whiskey leader in Spain also strong in Central Europe? Are Italians and Spaniards similar in their beverage preferences? In other words, how global is the beverage industry? Let’s find out.

Thanks to the data from our market reporting BI tool Outlet Census Live, we can easily find and compare numeric distribution market leaders in the 5 countries we’re covering. Here we will focus on the spirit and soft drink categories. We will skip beer as it tends to be very locally specific (in some countries, almost every bigger city has its own beer brand), whereas spirit and soft drink brands are more universally present around the world. 

The market leaders in soft drinks and spirits

We were expecting the spirits industry to be pretty homogenous, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead of one strong leader present across countries, we’re seeing a highly heterogeneous market environment. These are the market leaders ( = top 3 most distributed brands) in our 5 countries in various spirit categories.

Most popular vodka brands

Our verdict for vodka: Not global

We can see some similarities in Czechia, Slovakia and Poland with Finlandia and Absolut, but the numeric distribution of Absolut in Slovakia is less than half that of Czechia. Finlandia is totally missing in Spain and Italy and the only connection between these 2 countries is the Grey Goose brand. There is a bit stronger presence of the Absolut brand, but it is missing in Poland and Italy so we cannot say it is dominantly present across markets.

Most popular whiskey brands

Our verdict for whiskey: A bit global

We see a peculiar similarity in Spain, Poland and Slovakia amongs the most popular brands. The southern and central European markets are typically quite different, but Jack Daniels managed to overcome the geographical distance by being strong in all 3, albeit quite more in Poland and Slovakia than in Spain. The most distributed brands in Italy are non-existent in the other countries.

Most popular gin brands

Our verdict for gin: Not global

In the gin category, Beefeater is the total and undisputed king of Czechia and Slovakia gin brands, but missing in Poland and Italy. Bombay is in the top 3 in Italy, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia, but nowhere achieving real dominance and its numeric distribution is not that great compared to brands in the 4th or 5th places.

Most popular rum brands

Our verdict for rum: Not global

In rums, there is no common leader amongs the most popular brands. Czechia is quite peculiar thanks to the strong position of local brand Božkov which managed to beat even global heavyweights. You can spot Bacardi, Captain Morgan and Diplomático a few times, but there is no strong pattern here.

Most popular soft drinks brands

Our verdict for soft drinks: Very global

The soft drink category is a total opposite of the spirits category. As you can see, Coca-Cola is ruling everywhere and Sprite is 3rd in 4 out of 5 countries. There is a strong position of the local Kofola brand in Czechia and Slovakia, but other than that it is quite uniform. Notice the peculiar absence of Pepsi (apart from 2nd place in Poland). Coca-Cola’s numeric distribution is stunning in these countries, hovering around the 80% mark.

Even the most popular brands have to hustle

These results show one clear message - local execution is absolutely crucial in the on-trade channel, even for the most popular brands. As you can see, smaller local brands like the Božkov rum or Wyborowa vodka can crush the international heavyweights despite their resources and brand strength. 

To succeed, global brands should manage their markets directly and take control, otherwise risking lower ROI due to underestimating their smaller local competitors. Coca-Cola shows it can be done

We came to a similar conclusion in our other research regarding Czech beer brands where local players also overpowered brands with strong global distributors. 

Czech Beer Special: Strong regional leaders are crushing the market

In the end, maybe the world is less globalized than we thought. Even the premise of geographical similarity (southern vs central Europe) is not 100% true. If that’s a good or bad thing depends on if you’re one of the global juggernauts or belong to the local crowd. Seems like nothing has changed since ancient times. David still has a chance to beat Goliath.

SharpGrid is a data & tech company reinventing market research in the on-trade channel. The on-trade channel consists of POSs (points of sale) like restaurants or bars where food & beverage is bought and consumed, and is often also called HoReCa, on-premise, food service, out-of-home, gastro or immediate consumption (IC) channel, hospitality or on-licence.


Other Articles

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.