When most people think of Absolut, they think of vodka. However, the Pernod Ricard-owned brand now wants people to associate its name with fine art.
Absolut Art is an online retailer with a mission to make art mainstream enough that everyone can hang a piece on their walls. The business sells curated prints for $250 to $6,000, with a sweet spot of $250 to $500.
"We have such a strong brand equity in the Absolut brand that we wanted to see if there was a possibility to create brand equity outside (spirits)," said Absolut's head of innovations, Lena Danielsson. "We saw that first of all there is a huge opportunity when it comes to future revenue in the art industry, but second, we have a history in the area. In our brand DNA, art is fundamentally rooted."
Danielsson said that Absolut decided it wanted to branch out about 2 ½ years ago, and considered 40 different ventures to dive into. After talking to consumers, gallery owners and artists, the company felt it would still be considered credible even in the elitist art community. Interestingly, Absolut Art is not tied to any overt marketing initiatives.
"We're acting as a start-up and expanding the Absolut brand into another category that is independent from the vodka," said Nahema Mehta, CEO of Absolut Art.
It may seem strange for the vodka brand to veer off in a new direction, but it's something that many organizations are attempting in order to expand their brand into a lifestyle. Clothing companies Armani and Bulgari own several hotels across the world. Red Bull is almost as known for its caffeinated beverages as much as its action sports media content. Virgin Group operates everything from spacecraft to films to banking. Converse offers Converse Rubber Tracks, a way for up-and-coming bands to record music for free.
"This is a classic brand expansion play, but with any brand extension you have to ask does the extension fit the customer's expectations?" said David Gaspar, managing director at advisory firm DDG. "It's all about authenticity — and millennials care about authenticity."