In 2020 we are seeing an explosion of new marketing ideas and concepts that are based in historical morays and philosophies. Marketing is a blend of strategy that seeks to capture technology, and innovation and package it for sale. Over the years, many tactics have been used to sell alcohol. From frogs croaking out the name of the product to using the sheer beauty of the location to sell the product, these approaches have made beverage marketing the powerhouse that it is. Now faced with numerous challenges in tactics, demographics and a general mistrust from the consumer, brands need to once again adapt.
Strategy for Attention
Why do iconic campaign tunes or jingles stick in our head, and why do they become Iconic. The answer is advertising and it is only after the marketing process that brands will spend money on advertising. This paper explores how modern marketing has and will continue to change with shifting demographics and spending habits.
In beverage marketing, gaining the consumers attention is key. Through romantic and oftentimes sexually charged imagery, catchy taglines, and the allure of luxury, consumers attention is drawn to the product. Taking a deeper dive in motivations the industry should take a deeper look at the origins of the AIDA method as it applies to advertising campaigns. This approach was developed in 1898 to explain personal selling techniques in life insurance.
The hierarchical, four step process that Lewis devised uses cognitive phrases that consumers relate to when considering a new product or acknowledging a new idea. This technique is still relevant and used today. We’ll explore how the AIDA method applies to beverage marketing campaigns in subsequent paragraphs.
Anheuser-Busch (AB) comes to mind regarding gaining an audience’s attention. The well-known “Budweiser Frogs” commercial from the 1995 Super Bowl is one of the more memorable ads, along with 1999’s “Wassup”. But Anheuser-Busch’s marketing does not rely on just creative gimmicks for their marketing strategy. Their iconic Clydesdales are a branding powerhouse for the company, giving them some of their most heartwarming and touching ads.
The ads from Anheuser-Busch also pique interest. AB has a history of creating multi-arcing storylines in their ads in order to draw the viewer in. This storyline makes the consumer respond, “Oh, yeah! That is the beer that had that amazing commercial during (the event).”
When it comes to desire, one immediately thinks sexually charged imagery. This can range from a sultry, low voice from the characters in the ad to suggestive marketing. Creating the desire for something that one does not have is the biggest driver in marketing. Consider Oregon’s Naked Winery. With suggestive wine names such as “Penetration”, “Vixen”, “Dominatrix”, and “Foreplay”, they take the concept of desire and maximize its impact. Although some are less suggestive and more explicit.
Action is more of a mental state. It could be considered the cumulative effect of the other three processes. This is when the consumer starts to wonder: “What will I have to do to get it?” This is in some arenas called fear of missing out or FOFMO and it elicits great drama which plays out in an orgy of bonfires every black friday when people push and shove to get whatever toy we were told is the must have. Every year we look at action in a concerning light in the guise of black friday. We look at the results of fear of missing out or FOMO as people push and shove to get the latest toy or must have dealt in an apocalyptic orgy of self-indulgence solely created by marketers to keep consumers wanting more.
Advertising Technology & Innovation
Technology changes the landscape of marketing on a monthly basis. To keep up, marketing professionals are quickly becoming technophiles. From the invention of the television, the computer, the internet, and social media, marketers have had to adapt to new platforms thanks to the consumer’s rapid adaptation and dependence on new technology.
The dawn of radio in the early twentieth century significantly broadened the speed and reach of marketing campaigns. Prior to radio advertisements, marketers had had limited mediums such as print and/or word of mouth marketing. Bringing printed words to life with a voice meant that advertisers could display their excitement for a product beyond the page. The invention of the electronic television in 1927 dawned a new era in marketing, even though the first television advertising campaigns would not be seen for another 14 years. On July 1st, 1941, the first television advertisement aired. This advertisement was for the luxury watchmaker Bulova, who spent $9 on advertisement (adjusted for inflation, that $9 is worth $157 in 2020). It was a mere ten seconds long and aired in 4,000 households in New York City.
Television allowed companies to appeal to consumers in a new way. Not only were they able to use moving pictures as they had since the 1930’s in the cinemas, they were able to reach consumers in their own home. Television advertising grew tremendously over the following decades. Today, Television advertising is a multi-billion-dollar business. With large televised sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500, alcohol marketing has become a large proportion of a company’s budgets. Business Insider reported that in the first quarter of 2016, alcohol manufacturers spent $421 million on advertising. Of that $421 million, 90% was spent on television spots.
Why is this important in beverage marketing? Television is still the largest medium of advertising, with a captive audience, despite the advances to social media and digital marketing. Food for thought for producers in the future.
Social media is a catalyst in marketing. In times of uncertainty, a well-developed social media marketing plan can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a dud. It also sends a message to a whole new class of consumers…millennials and Gen-Z, also known as the “Zoomers”.
Millenials and Zoomers are a unique set of consumers to market to. They don’t necessarily follow the societal norms for other generations when it comes to watching television and reading newspapers. Millennials and Gen-Z are a distinct group of individuals who heavily rely on social media and digital marketing for not only their purchasing decisions, but their research into the product as well.
Wine marketing is about innovation. From the times of prohibition When alcohol purveyors were finding creative solutions to get their product to people with the virtual approach that was taken during the SARS-COVID-19 outbreak in late 2019 and into 2020, the alcohol industry has been finding ways to continue their futures.
How much time should wineries spend on social media and how is ROI tracked? How do they know which platforms to use? These are questions for another paper or webinar perhaps.
The wine industry has been finding ways to set themselves apart since the early days of the Gallo brothers. Joining forces with celebrities or celebrities opening their own wineries is one way that the wine industry has stayed relevant to consumer needs even creating it when needed.
For the next few months each post will describe current marketing strategies, outline faults and threats and identify opportunities utilizing the best idea for the future.
In mid-May, Julia Herz, the Craft Beer Program Director at the Brewers Association, predicted that the number of craft breweries would continue to increase even with the COVID lockdowns and economic uncertainty. A couple months later, the Brewers Association have released the first half of 2020 data and it looks like her prediction was on target. According to Bart Watson, Chief Economist at the Brewers Association in the 2020 Midyear Survey Shows Challenges for Craft Brewers (behind firewall):
As of June 30, the Brewers Association database showed 8,217 active craft breweries, up from 7,480 during a comparable time frame last year. Adding in large and other non-craft brewers brought the U.S. total to 8,341. Although considerable growth, that is a deceleration from mid-year 2019, where the number had increased by more than 1,000 during a similar time frame.
Looking at our database, the decrease is largely attributable to a slowdown in openings, more so than a sharp increase in closings. While it remains possible that closings will accelerate as 2020 continues, through the end of June, our database only shows 112 closings. That’s only 4% higher than the number we had found during the same time period last year. In contrast, we have only counted 301 openings, a number that is about 20% lower than the opening count through the first 6 months of 2019 (found by this point last year).
Regarding openings, we are actually surprised that the drop was only 20% lower — based on the lockdowns that we had experienced over the Spring. Yet in our interview below Ms. Herz stressed that breweries in planning actually had a hidden advantage in that they planned for an opening during a stressful economic climate. These breweries could not afford to rush their opening without proper due diligence. And based on monthly data inferred from the New Brewer Magazine, over 60% of the 301 new openings occurred after March 1 — right before the national lockdown.
As for closures, only a 4% increase shows the resilience and flexibility of small independent craft brewers. And according to the same monthly data, only 40% of the closures occurred after March 1 as brewers have modified business models to cope with the pandemic. Furthermore, the overall number of closures was affected by the retrenchment among larger craft brewery chains. Gordon Biersch, Rock Bottom, Granite City, and RAM closed a combined 18 brewpubs in the first half of 2020, representing 16% of all closures. Removing this number from the overall closures would actually show a 10% decline in the overall number of closures.
Mr. Watson alludes above that closures may accelerate in the second half of 2020, and the statistics referenced here relies on the Brewers Association obtaining valid non-member data. However, there is optimism that the craft beer industry will not only survive the pandemic but continue to grow. In the same article, Mr. Watson mentions the optimism expressed by smaller brewers – where they predict 12% growth in the second half. In six months we will discover the accuracy of this prediction or are smaller brewers “simply wearing rose-colored glasses”.
Many of us may never return to a traditional office setting and we need to be prepared. All across America companies are allowing or requiring all of their employees to work from home. Some companies are giving employees a choice to stay home. For those struggling with this hardship here are some guidelines to keep sane and productive.
How to stay sane working from home
Use a blocker to avoid social media Block apps like news, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram
Keep a separate office space (if possible)
Don’t watch more than an hour of news (this is important to keep stress levels down)
Set a schedule (to the best of your ability)
Include mental and stretch breaks
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated but also to force bathroom breaks which force you to walk around
Use an hour of cleaning the house time to problem solve work issues. It will be surprising how solutions will come.
Do not overschedule just to make yourself seem busy
Tackle larger projects you have been putting off by breaking them up into smaller segments that you can accomplish within a day
Turn The TV off and use the radio or a music app to provide soft background noise if you must
Allocate time to get organized for the future
Take regular physical and mental breaks. Break contact with your computer for at least 60 seconds every hour. Look off into space or day dream for 60 seconds it only takes a minute.
Try and find a comfortable space, working from the kitchen table is often the only option but if you can put a small table and chair in a corner somewhere you might fare better.
Set semi-hard deadlines and learn to forgive yourself if you miss one or don’t have enough to keep you busy to the end of the day.
Working from home
Perhaps most important, LUNCH. Do not skip this, working from home already means working longer and later so the line between work time and home gets blurred. Take a lunch break everyday even if it’s 30 mins and a snack. Taking a lunch break is important for you to reset for the rest of the day.
Try to avoid feeling guilty, that feeling of just having to constantly check email, respond right away and not taking time to formulate a response. Working from home does not mean working 24/7 and being available all the time.
The bosses are often in the same boat, stuck at home with husbands or wives they are not used to spending 24 hours a day with and children that once were in school 8 hours a day. No one is alone in this.
May is Michigan Wine Month and the Michigan Wine Collaborative has partnered with BevFluence in order to promote Michigan wines throughout the summer. The Michigan Wine Collaborative (MWC) is a non-profit organization formed “to enhance the sustainability and profitability of the Michigan wine industry by supporting wineries, growers, related businesses and individuals connected to the industry – today and for future generations”.
Left Foot Charley is a winery located in Michigan’s Traverse City region — also called the Traverse Wine Coast because of the abundance of wineries located in the nearby Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail and the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula trail. One reason is that this northern Michigan region is situated on the 45th Parallel — lined up with the world’s most prestigious wine regions (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piedmont, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley to name a few) where these regions experience the same angle of the sun and length of a day.
Yet, that only is a partial explanation – particular microclimates matter such as found in the Old Mission Peninsula where Lake Michigan creates a very favorable grape growing environment. The “lake effect” snow protects the vines in the winter from freezing temperatures and provides a diurnal change in temperatures during the summer. Think bright acidity.
Left Foot Charley leverages small family-owned vineyards in the Old Mission Peninsula with most of these planted with less than 2 acres of vines. This translates to abundant tender loving care. The grapes are very intriguing and include many found in Germany and Austria: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Blaufränkisch – in addition to Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.
Aurora Cellars is situated in the middle of the Leelanau Peninsula American Viticultural Area (AVA), which was established in 1982. The AVA is comprised of a peninsula between Lake Michigan on the west and Grand Traverse Bay on the east. The lake effect caused by these two bodies of water helps moderate the climate making it highly suitable for viticulture. These are cold-climate grapes predominately Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc — all vinified by Aurora Cellars in addition to the Austrian Grüner Veltliner and Blaufrankish.
12 Corners Vineyards is located on the shores of Lake Michigan within the Lake Michigan Shores AVA. In fact, this AVA is the oldest modern commercial grape region of the state and home to a majority of Michigan vineyards and half of the state wine grape production. That is because the region is sheltered from the harshness of winter by the “lake effect” which blankets the fruit vines with snow and providing slightly warmer temperatures. The winery is based on a 115-acre estate planted with both vinifera and hybrid grapes that includes Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Marquette, Traminette, and Gewürztraminer. Expect very affordable and clean wines whether dry or off-dry, semi-sweet or sweet.
Seven BevFluence community members will be sharing their thoughts of these wines on various platforms and social media. The campaign was kicked off by an interview with Emily Dockery on the BevFluence YouTube Channel and will continue into July with various virtual tastings and interviews. On May 25th, 6 PM ET, Nick Drinks will stream an interview with Aurora winemaker and founder Drew Perry followed by another streamed interview with 12 Corners Vineyard winemaker Glen Greiffendorf on July 11th, 6 PM ET. On May 28th, 9 PM ET Gina Shay of the MWC will appear on WineAntics Live for a lively conversation with Jenn Nelson and Stub. Moving into June, Wine With Paige will stream on Instagram Live an interview with Left Foot Charley winemaker and founder Bryan Ulbrich on June 13th, 5 PM ET and 12 Corners Vineyard winemaker Glen Greiffendorf on June 17th, 8:15 PM ET.
Furthermore, in June, on the 18th at 8 PM ET, the BevFluence team will be hosting a Twitter Wine Chat discussing the wines of Left Foot Charley. We encourage all wine lovers to participate by not only joining the chat but joining with a bottle or two of their wines. We will be providing a link for a discount on these wines shortly.
On July 2nd, 8 PM ET, the BevFluence team will be hosting a virtual tasting of Aurora Cellars’ wines where Drew Perry will be able to discuss Aurora, the Leelanau Peninsula AVA, and his wines in more detail. We once again encourage all wine lovers to participate by not only joining the chat but joining with a bottle or two of their wines. We will be providing a link for a discount on these wines shortly.
Finally, there will be multiple engagements across other media platforms which you can follow by searching for the #UnderTheBevFluence tag. Cheers to Michigan wine.
We are content creators, industry experts, and lovers of libations. If you are interested in similar campaigns or want to learn how we can help your region, state, operation, or collective please reach out!
The use of craft beverage virtual tastings erupted frantically when the economy closed as producers sought means to engage with potential consumers. And participation was quite active as consumers looked for entertainment during the shutdown and proactively desired to support their local craft beverage producers. But like most engagement activities, enthusiasm wanes over time, and producers must continue to entice consumers to join these virtual tastings. Particularly if craft beverage producers choose to continue this means of social engagement once the economy re-opens.
This post will illustrate several best practices that the BevFluence team has drafted as well as ideas for attracting sustained participation. These practices are generally equivalent across all craft beverage industries with only minor deviations between them. And the tips provide opportunities for producers to attract a larger audience and engagement and sustain this marketing technique.
The loss of tasting room access across the nation means that brands struggled for an alternative. Many haphazard tastings, winemaker events, sales pitches, cocktail classes and promotional sessions all held virtually have clogged the already strained content highways. Be above the fray, and follow these best practices and ideas to take your tastings to the next level.
With so many brands flooding the web with content this will help stand out.
Determine the goal of each virtual tastings
Obviously, the end goal is to increase sales but determining a goal for each session will provide a better return on your marketing dollar. It will force you to stay focused and brainstorming ideas. Are you introducing your brand, a particular product, or a marketing campaign?
If your only goal is to increase sales then you will probably not do well. The goal needs to be education, engagement, meaningful content and outreach.
Determine the hosting platform
Zoom and Facebook Live seem to be the most prevalent platforms being utilized at the moment. YouTube Live and a slew of other platforms have all exploded on the scene. Instagram Live or Twitter chats are also possibilities and are considered important in some circles.
Inform the public
Once you have discerned a topic, notify consumers as early as possible and frequently. Most importantly provide participants the ability to purchase the featured product(s) as soon as possible. Shipping can get complicated so plan ahead since logistics vary based on geographic location. We recommend a minimum 14 days notice before the event. Producers will receive much greater participation during the virtual session if participants are sipping along with the presenter. Do not waste the chance to get the customer to taste alongside the presenter. The better you plan, the more chance you can get people to buy before the tasting and after.
In addition, when sending notifications via email, blogs, or social media posts, add links to create calendar reminders so that consumers can easily save the virtual tasting date. Here is one source to generate the calendar event across multiple platforms: Add to calendar button.
Finally, follow your initial announcement with daily or thrice weekly reminders and updates until the tasting. Do not bombard people but get the information out early and often.
Advertise far enough ahead.
Get the wines so people can watch and taste along.
Discounted shipping and a promo code.
Planning the tasting session
Before you begin, choose a physical broadcasting location that not only provides sufficient audio and lighting, but also a sense of comfort and security – particularly if the presenter has any sense of self-consciousness or insecurity. Will broadcasting from a tasting bar or similar structure in your home provide more comfort or authority? Or will a bookshelf filled with craft beverage books and awards? Next, draft a sensory experience for those participants who were unable to purchase the featured product(s). How are you going to explain the tasting notes to those not tasting along? Finally, accumulate graphics to display throughout the session which should include bottle shots, photos of the establishment, andor maps – lots of maps. Show attendees where you are located as well as specific vineyard locations as regards wineries.
Interact with participants
During the tasting session, encourage questions and participant input. During marketing or registration, ask participants to submit questions beforehand and reserve time to answer and engage the questioner. Be sure to mention the person who asked it; they will appreciate hearing their name. Also, directly engage with attendees you recognize by recalling shared experiences or asking them to discuss a topic in the chat. DO not neglect this, have someone monitor the chats or streams for questions during the event.
Post links to the recorded session and to purchase the wines and distribute to consumers via email, blog post, or via social media. Start marketing your next tasting session. Mention the wines or products you are tasting on the next session so people in theory have the time to get them.
We have used affiliate links to track how well sales do for the brands during our tastings. If you can track the data you can better understand how well you are doing and learn your true ROI.
Tips for Sustaining and Widening Engagement
Widen the audience
Do not think entirely of the subset of existing consumers, but look towards other genres for new customers. Music lovers love craft beverages. So do gardeners. And cooks. Thus provide virtuals sessions on these subjects by inviting an expert and pairing with a craft beverage. Cooking demonstrations are already being presented as they are easiest to implement. Reach out to a local garden center or within your own staff for someone knowledgeable enough to demonstrate creating a custom plant container. Or pair your targeted beverage with music; maybe an album, song, or musician. Many musicians are performing at home in similar settings so reach out to one and trade a sample for a song. And with all these examples, the actual demonstrations or performances could be recorded earlier and showed during the session.
Use social media targeting when promoting your event. It will help you narrow down the theme and the audience. Look outside your comfort zone, you never know who could be watching. Collaborations are a great way to expand your audience across many platforms. These are often overlooked due to the legal and regulatory hurdles, but given the virtual
Yes, cocktail demonstrations are obvious for craft distillers, but they are also intriguing options for breweries, wineries, and cider producers. For the latter, think of a Josie Russell, Hemingway’s favorite cider cocktail using hard cider and rum. For craft brewers, check out Craft Brewing. Or Liquor.com. And sparkling wine is an obvious candidate for cocktails, but what about red wine? Try these Red Wine Cocktails.
Over time, even your most rapid supports will start to wane interest so plan educational sessions to keep them engaged. We recommend discussing glassware, which is appropriate for each beverage style and how the sensory character of the beverage can change based on the serving vessel. If you have a glassware partnership all the better; this is another potential channel to get your message circulated when they share your content.
Specific Educational Topics
Depending on the industry, there are other topics that a producer can present that may include additional planning and logistics, but should be engaging and interesting topics. Wineries can discuss and demonstrate cellar practices such as racking and blending sessions. Vineyard managers could present grafting, pruning, ground cover, pests, or grape varieties. Brewers can discuss malting, hops, sour programs, and beer styles such as lagers versus ales. And distilleries can present bourbon regulations, casks, or historic liquors.
This article was not written to encourage every brand to rush out and produce online virtual tastings. In fact, the opposite is true; not all brands need an online virtual tasting regime. How can you discern if you should be hosting virtual tastings? Look at your email list, look at engagements online, look at the number of people who follow your brand on Facebook or other social media platforms. Is your audience still engaged? Have you never been able to sustain continual engagement activity? Then perhaps this may not be worth your time. However if you are committed to establishing and maintaining your brand’s online presence, then online tastings could be a valuable tool to expand followers and potentially sales.
Making the choice to market your brand in a virtual tasting format is complicated.