January was a tough month to get through for most, cold weather, healthy eating, hard-core gyming and if you were brave enough, abandoning the booze. But whilst health brands and gyms have seen the benefit to the “new year, new me” behaviours, we wanted to understand how the Dry January mindset is evolving and what other trends will affect the drinks market this year. In this article, we’re going to run through findings from our interview with Global Brand Director of Bacardi, Zeenah Vilcassim and outline three ways you should be positioning your alcohol brand for 2018.
TREND #1: REDUCTION NOT ELIMINATION
The drink culture in the UK is changing. Whilst there is no denying we’re a nation that has previously been known for “binge drinking” we’re now seeing attitudes shift towards alcohol reduction and “everything in moderation”. Data from the Office of National Statistics’ report on Adult Drinking Habits showed that in the last ten years, three million adults are intent on moderating consumption in smaller serves with older people reducing and younger people not drinking as much.
The good news for brands, is that customers aren’t necessarily eliminating all together, they’re just focussing more on reduction for a healthier lifestyle. From our interview with Barcardi Global Brand Director Zeenah, she explained that for the past few years Dry January was about proving you can go without alcohol for a month, whereas this year it’s been more about taking those principals and applying a more considered approach to what you drink all year round.
According to the Eventbrite Brighter Futures report, as well as the health side of things being drunk compromises a key reason for going out in the first place - ‘creating memories’. With just 13% regard getting drunk as the most important thing when going out. So with this in mind, alcohol brands should focus their attentions on how they can stay top of mind, even when they’re not top priority. Its inevitable that initiatives like Dry January will have an impact on consumption, but when consumption is on the decline, how can brands integrate themselves into other aspects of the buyers experience to remain present and relevant all year round?
OUR ADVICE: Be part of peoples lives
Even if it’s not in the month of January think of ways that you can be of value, it’s not just about the drink but what you can do with it. Consider ways to embed yourself in your customers lives, whether it’s through food, entertainment, education or once in a life time experiences. Find a way to cement your brand, even when your audience isn’t drinking. For inspiration, check out Camden Brewery for how they managed to create a beer club for runners and utilised on the bottomless brunch craze.
TREND #2: TRANSPARENCY IS KEY
At Mattr, we talk a lot about being transparent. And no, we don’t mean the clarity of the liquid you sell, we mean what’s behind it. In today’s world, your ingredients, your staff and your processes are equally as important as that final taste on your customers lips, yet so often we see these brand elements overlooked. But with millennial purchasing behaviours evolving past traditional factors of taste, price and convenience, brands must find a way to demonstrate they are more than just a good tasting product.
“If the brand doesn’t provide the information they need, millennials will look elsewhere. They value authenticity, and make decisions based on the way they perceive brands to impact their quality of life, society as a whole, and how that brand may be contributing positively to the world.” - Jeff Fromm, Forbes.
Interestingly it’s the soft drinks category that we see leading the way with transparency, brands like Fever Tree, Karma Cola and Ugly Drinks have all focussed championing their honest approach as well as creating a killer product which seems to be the 2018 ingredients for success. When we spoke to Karma Cola Founder Simon Coley last month, he explained that when good is integrated into your approach, your story buys you attention. Being open about what goes into their products and how it’s produced has been a key driver to building long lasting relationships.
It’s a hugely important trend for brand marketeers to be considering for this year and future years to come. Sure, you might have your awareness content lined up to win coverage, but think about lower down the funnel, how else could you be using your staff or processes to help engage and convert consideration into sales?
OUR ADVICE: Be open about who you are:
Dont worry, we’re not saying you need to make changes to the way the business is run or start donating to charity, but what we would encourage you to do is communicate what’s behind your brand. Champion your staff, show how the drinks are produced, film packaging being made, because we’re living in a world where people love to be part of the journey. And whatever you do, don’t wait for a scandal or complaint to happen before acting on this, otherwise you waste a perfectly good opportunity to promote your brand for the right reasons.
TREND #3: EMPOWERMENT OF CHOICE
Over the past couple of years, empowerment has been the advertising buzzword of choice. But our final trend to focus on in 2018 is empowerment of choice. Sadly, we’re living in a box ticking obsessed world which despite best intentions to be inclusive and empowering can often turn into overcomplicating, isolation or customer backlash.
This insight stems from Zeenah observing a problem in the market place around gender specific targeting, she explained that it’s not about changing a product for a woman, it’s about giving her the autonomy and empowerment to decide what she wants to drink and how she wants to experience it.
“When women buy a whiskey, they don’t necessarily want a lighter or sweeter whiskey. They want to have the knowledge to confidently walk into a shop and decide which whiskey is right for them at that moment. If they happen to drink it with water, with ice, or have mixer with it, it shouldn’t be looked down upon. Ultimately it’s their choice because it’s their experience.
So how do alcohol brands bridge this gap between drink stereotypes and customer confidence when purchasing? The simplest answer is, educate and inspire. Provide them with tools they need to understand the market and let the rest unfold. Give them the security that it’s fine for them to drink what they want, the way they want it.
OUR ADVICE: Be tastefully empowering
Throw out the rule book of how drinks should be served and any misconceptions that you should change your bottles to pink to appeal to a female audience. Instead, tell your audience (whatever demographic they may be) your recommendations, give them the knowledge on the drink, teach them about flavour pairing but most importantly welcome their suggestions. Let them discover what’s right for them. There is no right or wrong way to drink alcohol, so don’t try forcing it.
FIND YOUR PERFECT BLEND
A good looking and tasting product is half the battle, but to be the last man standing you need to be considering the entire customer journey and new ways to tap into consumption. Customers respect brands that are open and honest, so be reflective of what your values are and focus on transparency, education and empowerment this year. Unearth the real stories in your business, your processes and your customer preferences to ensure you stay relevant throughout 2018.