#CMOChat Series: Successes and Lessons from Tito’s Handmade Vodka [Video]

“The first thing you must do if you’re going to go international is register your trademark,” says John McDonnell, Managing Director International for Tito’s Vodka. As McDonnell shared in his keynote at our Global Marketing Symposium, “when people overseas see your brand as a success in America, they will immediately try to register your trademark.” Unfortunately, he speaks from experience. Registering your trademark—and when appropriate, your trade dress—may seem obvious, but forgetting this first step has exposed some companies to major issues, including a hefty price tag.

Do Your Research

This means finding everything from solid target markets to reasonable price points. But even with a logical approach to research comes standard starts and stops—maybe you made some assumptions along the way that turned out to be inaccurate or experimented with sales strategies that didn’t work out so well. Rest assured, there is always a way to get your strategy back on track.


When Tito’s was ready to roll out its global strategy, the company focused on English-speaking countries first—like Australia. However, much to their surprise, they found that heavy taxation in Australia made a 20 U.S. Dollar bottle of vodka close to 60 Australian Dollars—meaning they had to adjust their FOB significantly and took a serious margin hit in order to launch. But to Tito’s, losing existing consumer loyalty to local brands overseas was not a risk worth taking.

CX State of Mind

With international availability comes the need to deliver a consistent customer experience. For Tito’s, the look and feel of its handmade vodka remains the same everywhere, but its teams also understand the importance of adapting locally to appeal to international markets. Considering how regulations vary from country to country, this is no small feat.

McDonnell joined Lionbridge CMO Clint Poole for our #CMOChat series to elaborate on how to avoid many of the obstacles he faced in taking Tito’s Handmade Vodka global. Watch the clip below and check out his full keynote here: