Once upon a time, 100 years ago to be exact, Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri, threw the first-ever cocktail party. Her innovative soiree, dubbed a “Baby Party,” had guests dressing in infant-inspired clothing and drinking cocktails out of baby bottles. There’s no doubt behavior like this in such civilized times turned some heads. Walsh was avant-garde, a party pioneer. But, for today’s liquor, beer and wine brands, it’s not as easy to break new ground. That’s why alcohol promotions must create a buzz to help brands stand out amid their saturated markets.
The Spirit of the Alcohol Industry
In communities across the country, we are seeing a boom in craft breweries, wineries and distilleries. One article sums up the movement well by attributing it to consumers’ desires for “unique products and experiences.” In fact, the popularity of the development has some states reviewing current alcohol laws. The goal is to allow easier access for these small businesses, due to their anticipated contributions to the local economy. When you combine their ability to offer a unique and authentic experience, an important factor for millennial drinkers, it’s a good time to be one of these businesses. But, what does it mean for larger and more established brands?
Looking at top beer companies, CNBC reports missed targets and market share loss. Yet, the exception – Constellation Brands – comes as no surprise. Its strategy to add small craft beers to its winning portfolio appeals to millennials, who make up 35% of beer consumers. Still, America’s most beloved alcoholic beverage, beer, is getting a run for its money.
Wine has a significant piece of market share and is holding steady from last year. But, the real competition comes from spirits brands, which saw 4.5% sales and 2.4% volume increases in 2016. Data points to millennials’ contributions to this trend as well. This signals brands to target this generation heavily. And alcohol promotions raise their chances of success.
3 Ways to Add Flavor to Alcohol Promotions
As mentioned, consumers are looking for unique products, as well as experiences. Experiential marketing can deliver the latter and, with the right planning and execution, can create the brand buzz that you need. The following alcohol promotions ideas can increase brand awareness and drive sales.
1. Entice all their senses.
At the core of your experiential marketing event should be product sampling. But, also stimulating their other senses will only work in your favor. It doesn’t matter if you’re a craft operation or a mass manufacturer, give consumers a feel for the love that goes into your beverage’s story. Product specialists can set up a demonstration to highlight some of the process. Add value when you incorporate a game, contest or hands-on activity. For wine brands, perhaps invite attendees to witness (or even try) grape stomping. Or, for Irish whiskey, you might bring your barrels or casks for props. Let participants touch, smell and taste your product and the components that create it. The goal is to bring a small-scale version of your in-house production tour to your event. This is a great way to show the true makeup of your product and your brand’s authenticity.
2. Get interactive with technology.
Sam Adams conducted their own version of an in-house tour, but through the use of technology. As sponsor of The Music Run, a 5K run and music festival in Los Angeles, the longtime fan favorite hosted the beer tent on a grand scale. At the same time, event marketers created a “small company” feel with the help of company co-founder, Jim Koch. Mr. Koch was able to provide a personal touch to the event by presenting a virtual beer-making lesson. Attendees were able to connect with the executive via iPad. Then, they enjoyed a digital photo booth, branded swag, and beer, of course.
An experiential event of this kind combines two elements crucial to millennial drinkers: authenticity and technology. When possible, add other cutting-edge components like VR headsets or AR devices. Your efforts, when done right, will truly wow attendees.
3. Leverage the power of other brands.
In our search for truth, as well as products to try, the opinions of our peers are paramount, especially to millennials. In fact, almost 60% “consider wine reviews ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important” when choosing a bottle. That’s why alcohol brands are looking to influencers to help sway millennials and other shoppers in their direction.
One great example is New Amsterdam’s partnership with lifestyle blogger Aaron Marino. More than 2.5 million people follow Aaron on YouTube™ for advice on how to be a healthier, happier and more confident man. New Amsterdam saw this as a great opportunity to get its premium vodka and gin brands in front of fans of “high-class” living, like Aaron’s followers.
Anheuser-Busch took this concept a step further by incorporating experiential marketing. Their “Natty Shack” campaign featured the Natural Light brand and ran in conjunction with the Master’s golf tournament. The goal was to get in front of targeted consumers ages 21-27. To do so, the company sponsored 25-year-old competitor Smylie Kaufman and set up shop right outside the famed Augusta golf course. The site mimicked a college tailgate, complete with food, games, photo opps and Natural Light. This is a great example of a holistic marketing approach for greater ROI and return on engagement (ROE).
Experiential marketing is one of the best ways for any brand to reach and make an impact with consumers. If you or your brand are new to alcohol promotions, download our free Ultimate Experiential Marketing Staffing Guide and Checklist. This guide you walk you though logistics related to event staffing, training, and much more.