Giving back has always been fundamentally at the core of Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s business, which was founded by Bert “Tito” Beveridge in 1997.
This philosophy was never more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Austin, Texas-based vodka powerhouse revved up its support for nonprofit organizations and essential workers, especially for people who work in the hospitality and service industry.
“It was really good that we had a chance to give back during this time,” John McDonnell, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Managing Director International, tells TMI.
“Our team spent a lot of time doing charity events for people in the hospitality business, such as the Food for Friends programs around the globe. We worked with beverage catering to make pre-packaged meals for people in the hospitality industry.”
In the Caribbean, Tito’s charitable foundation worked with the Sandals Foundation to build a lounge for the first responders in a hospital in Jamaica so that they could go in and have coffee and get something to eat, said McDonnell.
St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital, which is the main COVID-19 treatment facility for persons in the parishes of St. Ann, Portland and St. Mary in Jamaica, was outfitted with a sterile and private area to serve as a lounge for the doctors and nurses who are on call in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
The facility was prepared by the Sandals Foundation as part of a wider CO- VID-19 relief sponsorship by Tito’s. The vodka company’s philanthropic arm, Love, Tito’s, has donated a total of US $25,000 to support the island’s hospitality workers and communities affected by the pandemic.
Business thrives on e-commerce
While Tito’s travel retail business was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, its business in the United States and domestic markets around the world continued to grow. Tito’s Handmade Vodka overtook Smirnoff Vodka to become the top selling spirit in the U.S. in 2019.
Tito’s was the number one liquor on alcohol e-commerce platform Drizly for the second year in a row in 2020.
“Brands that were prominent on e-commerce sites did well,” says McDonnell. “There wasn’t a lot of experimenting with different brands during the pandemic. Everybody went to the consumer staples: Tito’s, Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam.”
Tito’s international business was able to thrive in markets that were able to pivot to e-commerce or other creative selling methods, McDonnell tells TMI.
“There were some bright spots during the pandemic. Most all of our markets pivoted to e-commerce. Places like Guam, New Zealand, the UK were increases for us. Australia and the UK we benefited because we changed distributors and our distributors secured us more off-premise placement during COVID. So we performed very well in those markets,” he says.
“One of our distributors was making packages for consumer takeaway and delivery, in Vietnam for example, pairing Tito’s with different mixers. I think you are going to see that consumer behavior changed dramatically during COVID, focused more on home delivery and assorted packages from retailers: one stop shopping.”