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Tito’s is trolling canned cocktails with $20 empty cans

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

Basically everyone else is doing it, so you’d think it would be tempting for Tito’s Handmade Vodka to enter the canned cocktail craze. Instead, they’re doing the complete opposite.

The vodka brand is selling a completely empty can that encourages customers to make canned cocktails however they like them, preferably with Tito’s vodka. “Tito’s in a Can” is just that…almost: It’s a 16-ounce, refillable can that costs $20 that’s meant to be a cheeky knock at the ever-growing cocktail-to-go trend.

“Despite the flood of different flavors and variations, we’ve always believed the idea of customizations is always the way to go,” Taylor Berry, vice president of brand marketing for Tito’s, exclusively told CNN Business. “You can make a cocktail the way you want it and if you want the portability of a can, here’s a can we made for you — it just happens to be empty.”

The can is now on sale for a limited time at Tito’s online store with net proceeds benefiting charity.

Customers have been asking Tito’s to enter the canned cocktail space, Berry said. The brand has so far resisted, and Berry’s said that’s because Tito’s would rather focus on simply making vodka.

“We’ve been around for a quarter-century at this point, and there’s been a lot of trends that have happened throughout the alcohol industry,” he said. “We’ve stayed true to our roots — which is doing one thing, and doing one thing right.”

Despite the “very tongue-in-cheek” marketing stunt (after all, it’s an empty $20 can), Berry said it’s “a vehicle to express a lot of the personality of the brand and that straightforward thinking that we have in terms of what we want to do, which is just [to make] Tito’s Handmade Vodka.”

Vodka is the top-selling spirit in the United States, raking in more than $7 billion in sales last year according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS). Tito’s has grown in popularity since the Texas-based brand began in 1995. The family-owned company doesn’t reveal sales figures, but Tito’s is one of the country’s top-selling vodka brands.

Still, as consumers crave convenience and new flavors, ready-to-drink cocktails have exploded in popularity in recent years. Sales of premixed cocktails grew more than 40% last year, DISCUS recently revealed, soaring past $1.6 billion in sales and becoming second only to vodka in terms of volume consumption.

But Tito’s has no fear of missing out on canned cocktails, Berry said.

“Ultimately, from a brand standpoint, [we’re] holding true to what we know and the strategy we’ve had from the beginning — making vodka,” he said. “There’s an element of this brand not being sellouts.”

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