Last week an article caught our eye in Marketing Week, Drinkers need new reasons to try new alcohol brands (9th September 2015). We have included a link below but the reason we found this so interesting is that we have seen time and again over the last few years that going beyond awareness is essential and is far from a new phenomenon. Consumers, faced with much choice need a very good reason to switch from what they know, love and trust. We have spoken to hundreds of consumers over the years not just in the UK but in markets across Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia and in different ways they all need real, tangible reasons to go out and try relaunched brands, new brands and even new innovation over and above the brands they already love.
We agree on the fundamental issue at hand:
What is heartening is that there are always consumers who are prepared to be trailblazers, step beyond the accepted norm to try different products – the 38% mentioned in the article that didn’t agree that they always buy the same brands. We have also observed and agree that the fundamental issue at hand is to generate recommendation and aid discovery if a new launch is to be successful.
What the article doesn’t tell us is that sometimes getting the basics right can be really powerful:
The article provides several great examples from Brewdog, Rekorderling and Jameson with their really innovative campaigns and ideas to bring people close to the brand. However, we have seen that in many cases getting the basics right can be really powerful and should not be underestimated. Here are just two we wanted to highlight for now.
- Packaging: It sounds obvious but for a smaller brand, without big budgets and being seeded into a market the packaging is absolutely critical. It has to shout louder, attract attention away from the big established players. The cues and messages given by a bottle is often the only communication that consumers see when budgets are limited. Anyone who has researched alcohol globally will already have seen how key the packaging of Grey Goose and Hendrick’s were to their initial success and the impact that the Royal Salute bottle has in Asia. Getting under the skin of what your packaging does and can deliver is fundamental.
- Don’t Rule Out the Importance Of Sampling: It’s easy to dismiss sampling activity as a low scale means of generating awareness and trial. However, in a market where recommendation is so important small scale events have the ability to build a small army of brand advocates. Creating a unique experience and furnishing people with just the right amount of information can start a snowball that builds and builds – just look at the gin market for evidence.
So yes, encouraging consumers to switch alcohol brands is tough and needs careful thought, but it can be done without big budgets. The dark rum category has proved a really strong example of this with brands such as The Kraken and Sailor Jerry completely changing the rum category without the benefit of huge spend.