In 2009, in the wake of the 2008 market crash, Ketel One ($DEO) ran its first television commercial in America. The commercial depicted a simple evening, friends amongst friends, having a simple, clear drink. It was a stark contrast to pre-recession booze commercials that celebrated excess, yacht life, and high-end nightclubs. It ends simply enough: "Gentlemen, this is vodka."

And it worked. By 2014, the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index listed Ketel One as second to only Grey Goose among vodkas.

But since then, the economy has boomed, and spendy drinkers have pointed their wallets at imported whiskeys and champagne delivered to bottle-service tables with sparklers. The decline in Ketel One love is perhaps best displayed in the timeseries below, which shows Facebook Likes for the brand over time.

By 2019, Ketel One nearly eclipsed 1-million followers on Facebook. But since then, its follower count has declined to 926,000 as of this week. When it comes to Facebook followers, losses in those numbers are particularly conerning, as it means that users are actively seeking out the "unlike" button.

This doesn't directly translate to tough times for Ketel One, however. Sales in 2018 were up over 2017, and, if the 2008 recession taught us anything, it's that drinkers will seek out simpler, less showy options as they ride things out. If we do see another recession, we may see the folks at Ketel One (and Diageo) launch a redux of its 2009 campaign.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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