The USA has over 2,000 “Craft Distilleries”, and the spirits industry has thousands of other distilleries across the globe. It’s a very crowded and competitive industry.
The question and challenge facing all these distilleries is:
“How can your distillery and your brands break through the clutter and stand out in this environment”?
It all comes down to distillery marketing.
Distillery Brand Marketing
The first step of your distillery brand marketing journey is to think about and determine “What makes your distillery and brands unique and differentiated”?
The answers to this question may be the keys to developing an interesting and relevant “story” that will capture the interest of consumers and build brand awareness for both your distillery and your brands.
Your points of uniqueness may lie in:
- The distilling equipment you use
- The distilling techniques you use
- The raw materials you use
- The water you use, and the source of that water
- The unique “recipe” you use for a specific spirit
- How you blend, age or “finish” your spirits
Your points of difference may also include:
- The history of the distillery
- The experience and expertise of your Master Distiller
- The location and environmental conditions associated with your distillery
Developing a unique and powerful “Brand Story” is an important first step in creating a communication strategy that will help your distillery and brands stand out and be noticed by Retailers, On-Premise operators (Bars & Restaurants) and consumers!
Unfortunately, too many craft distillers are telling the same story, and that lack of differentiation is resulting in a lack of interest. The typical “Grain to Glass”, “Locally sourced grains”, “Hand Crafted” messages are being overused and not providing the differentiation to break through the clutter.
The next step in distillery marketing is creating a dynamic, high-impact packaging presentation for your brands. While high-quality spirits are critical to a brand’s ability to stand out, a beautiful bottle, label and cap/closure are equally critical to complete the brand presentation and get noticed…” Dress for Success”!
As a “Craft Distiller”, you are not competing against just other Craft Distillers, you are competing with every distiller in the world for the attention of consumers. The “major” spirit’s suppliers (Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Brown Forman, Proximo, etc.) are using custom bottle designs, the best branding and label designers, and creative elements within their packaging.
If you wish to compete, your brands must use similar creative techniques to stand up within your competitive set and be of interest to consumers.
Distillery advertising takes on many more forms than your average business. Beautiful packaging, while a bit more costly, will be worth every penny of investment as your brand presentation becomes an important marketing tactic as it captures the interest and attention of consumers, wither standing out on retailer shelves, back-bar at bars, or within other advertising and marketing communications.
Designing a great brand, including beautiful spirits and packaging is critical, but if no one knows the brand exists, it’s irrelevant… building brand awareness is key to distillery marketing!
Again, with a crowded spirits industry and thousands of brands, it is difficult and expensive to build brand awareness. As you develop your marketing strategies and tactics, brand awareness is the #1 objective, especially with new brands.
So, how do you build brand awareness? You may consider the following:
Implementation of “Sampling/Tasting” Programs
These should be done at both retail and on-premise locations. While this sounds simple, success is in the details. You must have a compelling presentation as you implement these programs that consumers find interesting and unique, and effectively tell the brand story. The presentation will need to include the brand name, the bottle/packaging, and the unique brand story… before you get into tasting the spirits.
It’s also important how best to taste your spirits with consumers in order to make the best first impression. Does anyone like sampling warm gin?
In many cases, the spirits are made to be used as the base spirits with cocktails, so likely, that is how the spirits should be sampled.
Implementation of “Event Sponsorships”
To be effective in building brand awareness, these should be of events that have a large number of persons of a similar demographic as your target consumer. As with retail and on-premise activation, your presentation within the event must be creative and compelling to be effective. These experiential interactions with consumers, where they can see, touch, and taste your brands can be the most impactful brand-building tactics.
Develop and Implement Advertising Campaigns
Distillery advertising campaigns can be effective in reaching a large number of your target consumers with your brand messaging. Digital/social media campaigns can be very cost-effective with the ability to target specific demographics and geography.
Again, ensure your advertising is creative and focused on driving brand awareness, including strong features of the brand name and packaging presentation. It’s with this brand awareness that consumers will recognize your brand within the crowded shelves at retail or back-bar in the on-premise.
Partnering with Social Media “Influencers”
This become a popular tactic in driving brand messaging to consumers. It is important to find the “right” influencer to partner with, one who:
- Has a significant number of followers
- Whose followers are of a similar demographic profile as your target consumer
- Who can deliver your brand messaging in a compelling fashion
Distillery Marketing Plan
Creating a distillery marketing plan may be an intimidating process, but that’s where we come in. The Firewater Firm, with our long history in the spirits industry, can help you:
- Build a compelling brand proposition
- Align your brands with the appropriate distributor partnerships
- Manage those distributors to drive brand distribution and availability with your targeted retail and On-Premise accounts
- Design and implement creative & compelling marketing campaigns.
We are a unique, specialized, and differentiated agency that takes our clients through the necessary steps of creating great brands and driving awareness and interest for those brands with consumers.We’re looking forward to getting in touch to help take your brand to the next level!