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    How to Keep Connections Bubbling with Beer and Spirits Consumers

    Marketers need to break through the white noise and connect authentically

    Let’s face it – consumers’ BS meters are on high alert.

    The path to influence purchasing decisions is intensifying as shoppers expect brands to act more human and be authentic with their intentions. Instead of focusing on how to genuinely engage with consumers, some beer and spirits marketers are pushing stale tactic after stale tactic in an attempt to temporarily capture consumers’ attention.

    So how can marketers break through this white noise and connect authentically? Below are three tips to help you stand out from the crowd.

    Status is on life support. Experience is king. The notion of buying on status alone is over. It’s no longer enough to simply have Diddy and Ray J promoting Ciroc. Marketers must enrich consumers’ experience. Brands must know what makes onsite experiences more rich and satisfying—something that takes consumers beyond product demo and label status, and connects past the surface.

    Brands must be authentic, and to achieve this, they need to create valuable, relevant content. Take the latest trend of pairing flavorful foods with a complementary beer like Negra Modelo, or how brands like Bacardi and Heineken integrate music into their offerings. These brands create value by providing unique content to fans.

    Interrupt the purchase cycle. As marketers, our job is to break up the mundane purchasing cycle to create real value for the consumer. Some brands do this through advertising parody, others with cheesy swag. Instead, brands should combine experiential marketing with digital and social components to get more effective results.

    Walk into any major beer and spirits retailer and you’ll see marketing clutter everywhere with numerous brands seemingly touting the same thing. This is the underlying reason why experiential has moved to such an important role. For beer and spirits purchasers, two-thirds of the people who walk into a bar or restaurant haven’t decided what type of drink they want to purchase. While this provides a huge opportunity for brands to influence consumers on site, it’s an even greater reason to focus on engaging and connecting with consumers before they reach an on-premise environment.

    Shiner Bock’s makeshift Biergarten, constructed outside the gates of the Austin City Limits festival, is a great example. There, concert-goers engaged with the Shiner brand by sampling product before stepping foot inside the event. Also, fans received branded koozies to keep their drinks cold and access to new music from bands.

    Think leading edge vs. bleeding edge. Though technology plays an important role in enabling a deeper connection between brands and consumers, marketers must differentiate between what’s scalable and experiential when integrating emerging technologies. The key? Do something genuine with technology rather than risk sliding down the slippery conversion-killing slope of doing something because it’s “the next big thing.” Brands do best when using technology that consumers are familiar with and should continue to do so if it will strengthen the consumer relationship. Consider this example: a photo booth located at an on-premise environment where consumers pose for pictures that are automatically uploaded to their Facebook page. Each photo is branded with the product’s name, an idea that provides instant, relevant gratification for customers while exposing the brand to an audience beyond premise.

    Consumers are starting to loosen their grip on their wallets. As they mingle in social environments where beer and spirits play a role, marketers must remember—it’s all about value exchange and enhancing the experience between the brand and its touch points, from consumers to bartenders, retailers and beyond.

    John Minnec is chief marketing officer of RiverNorth. Ian Wolfman is CMO of imc².




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