Shared Spirits has polled, asked, surveyed and discussed whether or not spirits, wine and beer brands need sampling technology of some kind. Given the analog nature of tasting and sampling initiatives you may be surprised at our findings. 

First, the premise or case use around our asking alcohol companies our questions. One of Shared Spirits Co-Founders is an industry veteran having run beverage programs for significant restaurants prior to joining the wholesale side of the wine and spirits industry. He has spent the last ten years in retail and on-premise distribution where for the last few years, he has lead and managed teams of “On-Premise” sales pros. He recognized a problem in undocumented waste of significant marketing dollars

In general, answers to our questions to some degree fell into three predictable camps.

I. Agency folks who held skeptical views of integrating true sampling technology. To them, it’s about the brand’s image, the consumer’s experience, the long, long, long tail. If you could tangibly measure a campaign activity more deeply than attendance and loose metrics around engagement and “intent to buy” they weren’t interested.

II. Big brand marketing types held fast in their answers around sampling technology by holding fast to the activities that serve to preserve their jobs. It’s all about legalities, brand, and “this is how it’s always been done.”

III. The rest of folks we spoke with were boots on the ground spirits, wine and beer sales pros or employees of up and coming craft brands in the liquor, wine and beer space. Their thoughts? Not surprising, they’re tired of wasting money without any knowledge of who’s actually put their liquid to their lips. The want to know whether or not the hired Ambassador is delivering on the spend and whether or not the recipients of the cocktails, shots, wines or beers is actually buying their brand after the event.

Questions we asked: 

To a Sales Director of a National Beer Brand: How did your sampling program work? 

“Poorly. I spent $140,000 on merch and product for 7 young ladies that didn’t know anything about my brand, my retail or distributor relationships or my customers. I got zero data. It’s a curse.”

To a Craft Brand Consultant: What is one of your biggest challenges? 

“We just don’t have the volumes, budgets, personnel and time to massage the relationships of our distributors. If we had budgets, personnel and time to really work with them, it would help.”

To an Owner/Founder of a Craft Spirit: What are you currently doing to legally assist bar staff in helping your brand grow? 

“I provide key people in key places a Visa Gift card. I obviously have to trust these people. I asked them to buy certain folks, it’s their choice, a cocktail featuring our brand. When the card runs out, give me a call.” 

To a State Director of a Global Wine Company with Multiple Brands: What are you doing to maintain and grow key on-premise accounts? 

“I’d have to say I’m lucky. I have a marketing team, a tremendous amount of logistical support, and I know the players in my state. To answer your question, I stay ever present in the distributor’s awareness and I visit my key accounts on a regular basis. If I had an easy to implement sampling programs in accounts I’d like to grow that would be fabulous.” 

Here in Nashville, TN we see program after program developed by agencies and adopted by brands solely because that’s what they’ve been doing all along. Sampling in Nashville often times means a team of agency hired model types with tank tops throwing out t-shirts and merch. Most of the time the program features a shot or a beer or perhaps a cocktail or wine if it’s a ticketed event. 

For event sponsorships, cash, product, yet another expense and often times licensed staff to stand behind the table all in the name of brand. No metrics, no emails, no ongoing marketing opportunities and absolutely no way to know how the event truly contributed to your brands success. The event may have been a success but NO ONE knows how to measure exactly what that means. 

There are ways to improve your odds as a brand. First, some quick reasons why you need to move tech into your sampling program implementations. 

  1. What you can’t measure, you can’t improve. If you don’t know the basics of who sampled your product, you’ve got no reason to complain since your big enough to spend money solely on image advertising without regard for near term results. If on the other hand, you want to know who entered the event, some relevant data about them, whether or not they sampled your brand, how they got to the location,i.e who invited them, and whether or not they visited one of your key accounts or bought your product at retail, you need help. 
  2. People love to engage with technology when they trust the brand and perceive sufficient value. Drinkers quite often love a deal. There is no better way to trade tech engagement by your targeted consumer than by sampling programs. Drinkers will give up the goods! 
  3. If you don’t use tech of some kind, you won’t get a chance to market to your visitors again. Relying on an agency, event promoter, magazine or other media outlet to continually market for you in return for traditional spends is a fool’s game. You’ve got to own your list. 
  4. With tech, you can track “share of wallet”. If I spend $40 a month on Vodka and through sophisticated marketing your brand owns that $480 annually, you own my Vodka share of wallet. If you’re not thinking this way as a brand, your competition will be very soon. Your big brand competition already is. 
  5. You need a relationship with your consumers. No, not the venues, not the distributors, not the bars, you need a relationship with the person who buys and drinks your brand. Cultivating that relationship is what will ultimately make your brand a winner. With technology available today, you can literally thank the individual who just sampled your brand or bought it retail, instantaneously via text. Why aren’t you doing so. Believe me, every one of Makers Marks Ambassadors would sign up today for that kind of personal attention. 

Let me cut to the chase. I and some other colleagues provide the technology that makes all of what I shared above possible. We’ve developed the most significant advance in alcohol beverage sampling technology in history. With our tools, brand ambassadors are empowered in new ways, GM’s, Bar staff, and local influencers in your best markets are turned into measurable, quantifiable data points when it comes to measurement of your brand’s success in their hands. 

If you’re interested in what Shared Spirits and its tech can do for your brand, we’d like to talk. The minimum spends start where you can afford them and you’ll not find a more collaborative team to work with than ours. 

Reach out to Sherman Mohr. He’s the CEO and Co-Founder. Even if it’s just a chat, no biggie. We want to know what you think it would take to get on the shelves and menus of the establishments in which you most want to be featured.