Imperial Brands, a Florida-based importer and marketer of spirits and the US subsidiary of European alcohol producer Belvedere, is targeting on-premise markets for Sobieski growth, following increased competition and high pricing pressure.

Sobieski is a vodka produced by using the revered Dankowski rye at the Starogard Gdanski distillery in Poland.

The vodka is currently available in 11 flavours – Raspberry, Cytron, Vanilia, Orange, Karamel, Espresso, Cynamon, Bizon Grass, Toasted Coconut and Lemon Meringue, with two more in the pipeline.

In 2011, Sobieski became the fastest vodka brand to achieve shipments of one million cases in the US, reported Shanken News Daily.

However, following the entry of other low-priced imported vodkas in the market, Sobieski had to face the increased competition and high pricing pressure, which ultimately slowed down the brand’s growth.

When compared to its growth rate of 50% and 25% in 2010 and 2011 respectively, the brand reported just 3.2% growth in 2012, forcing it to shift focus to on-premise areas, which currently accounts for around 15% of its business in the US.

The brand is looking at on-premise areas like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and others to grow business.

Imperial Brands marketing and business development vice president Timo Sutinen said the pricing competition is still fierce, and some mid-priced and even traditionally higher-priced brands are discounting quite heavily.

"During the first few years we concentrated almost totally on the off-premise, but recently we’ve started expanding in the on-premise with considerable success," Sutinen added.

"We foresee expanding by single-, and perhaps double-digits during the next few years.

"Premium imported vodka keeps gaining share from domestic vodka and other spirits categories. But we’ll need to stay inventive and current."