With The Grocer having recently published its annual Focus on Spirits, it seems like a good time to follow up my recent post on premium spirits . Last time, I looked at some of the factors driving sales of premium spirits – such as the search for Total Basket VfM, the rise of a new type of status brand, and consumers’ desire for statement drinks.
This time, I thought I’d take a look at what some of those brands are doing to encourage consumers to trade up from their more everyday counterparts. So for those of you thinking about joining the modern-day gold rush that’s become the premium spirits market, here are four simple steps to success. Just don’t get trampled in the crowd!
Step one: Think outside the box (with some distinctive packaging)
Brands like Belvedere, U’Luvka and Iceberg vodka have made a talking point of their packaging, giving them standout on shelf but also in-home. These brands begin to justify their premium pricing from the moment consumers set eyes on them.
Step two: Make like the Brothers Grimm, and find yourself a story
Brands like Sipsmith or Zubrowka Bison Grass have focused their communications on a clear narrative, which engages and involves consumers on an emotional as well as rational level. In doing so, they encourage a greater loyalty to the brand, creating advocates and educators.
Step three: Give ‘em a moment of magic
A number of the premium spirits brands have adopted the same tactic as their more mainstream cousins, looking to create a unique ritual around the drinking experience. The classic example of this is of course the ‘Gordon’s serve’, as showcased until recently by a certain fiery, foul-mouthed chef. Brands such as Russian Standard have done so by tapping into the popularity of cocktails, as consumers escape the bleak climate with a touch of glamour. Its Golden Summertime Iced Tea cocktail was created especially to showcase the distinctive flavours of Russian Standard, and the ritual of its creation allows consumers to feel closer to the brand.
Step four: Start a rumble in the jungle
One of the biggest trends for spirits in general, and particularly for the premium end of the category, has been the use of experiential marketing to promote and build engagement with their products. Last year we saw the Smirnoff Nightclub Exchange make headlines around the world, and this year the brand’s coming back for more – more events in more countries, with Madonna as ambassador.
At the premium end of the market, there are some great case studies such as the Jameson Film Club or Hendricks Curiositorium, but the grand prize has to go to Courvoisier, which has partnered with a range of eclectic, exciting partners from Secret Garden Party to Bombas & Parr to speakeasy White Mink, currently popping up at the Edinburgh Festival. Courvoisier has created a series of high-class, exclusive events that attract its target demographic of ‘forward thinking 28+’, and in doing so, has ensured that the positive memories customers carry away from those events will be indelibly associated with the brand. Through the creation of these experiences, spirits brands are making themselves more than just drinks: they’re a key part of the buzz.
So there we are: four steps to success. As with most of life’s formulas, when you break it down, it suddenly looks simple. I’m off to find my home distilling kit – Elderflower & Cadbury’s Creme Egg vodka, anyone?
PS – if you’re interested in long-lasting innovations in drinks why not check out our 40 Drinks Innovations that Shook the World?