If You Don’t Know Who Sampled Your Spirits or Wine Brand, You Don’t Know S…t!


The sampling programs utilized by alcohol brands, allowed to some degree in 46 states, no longer meet the requirements of true measurable KPI driven marketing. It’s time for a change.

When the measure of success for a spirits or wine brand sampling program includes the following success metrics, something is wrong. These are actual success metrics shared in case studies posted by agencies.

  • Some effort to drive the consumer to purchase is tracked ..i.e.sampling in a retail environment. (Vague as hell)
  • The number of consumers engaged (i.e., total conversations). Really?
  • A brand might identify success as a number of samples distributed or surveys completed. (Insufficient info in today’s digital age)
  • Surveying can illuminate valuable findings about your target consumer. (Sure if people take the survey)

In a Portma.com case study post, metrics pointed to surrounded survey answers, “intent” and engagements at a tasting table. Good work but not good enough for the billions being spent by brands in this humble marketer’s opinion.

In a post by Eventmarketer.com a run down of big budget events used by brands to promote their brands are in fact nothing more than ,commissionable to the agency, boondoggles. These events are where billions of dollars are spent annually by spirits, wine and beer brands. The potential is so much greater. Experiential marketing is imperative but agencies are getting away with murder not being held accountable for metrics and KPI’s associated with individual behavior.

Even great companies like https://nextlevel-co.com/ and others that serve to put great ambassadors in place for brands can’t begin to really build relationships with masses of real consumers.

In this so called case study, the agency described briefly the role they played in product development, event planning, roll out and so on. Not one single measurement on true engagement or bottom lines. http://www.rtstrategy.ca/case-studies/spirit-bear/

In this case study, a well known agency touts press coverage and media impressions as the end game. Fortunately, some increase in on-premise sales were attributed to the press but there is NO mention of how effective the big spend by the brand was to its overall revenue or profit numbers. http://bensonmarketing.com/case_studies/hahn-family-wines/ 

Look at other industries and follow me on this point; study an industry like online e-commerce in most any category. Your purchase behavior is known, tracked and even the mediocre sites now use software to facilitate selling you more of what you really want.

Kroger finally delivers me coupons based on my previous buying habits. Instead of feeling creeped on, I’m loving it because I can actually use the coupons.

The best restaurants now track what I’ve enjoyed on previous visits and build relationship with me around those visits. Apps and technologies are used to reinforce relationship with me. Trained staff may now have my drink ready, my guests names known, as well as all of our preferences. Agencies serving liquor brands with big budgets need to get with the program and start building real relationships with real customers of the brands they serve.

Hell, even large companies send me a card or digital gift on my birthday. This stuff is NOT rocket science.

What do alcohol brands do? Engage an agency, throw an event or tasting and give away liquor or wine and don’t maintain or demand a metric or who the hell sampled the brand!

One globally known brand spent $14 million on a program sold to them through an agency that called for a 23 city effort. 48 or so people were hired to visit GM’s and Beverage Managers and 6 nights a week buy 7 random people a shot and a beer. Parties were held and $14 million dollars later, not a single person who experienced the random drink was known, tracked, followed up with or being marketed to with any type of true follow up. It’s ridiculous and time to do better by brands.

For my millions, I’d want something else. For starters, a set of case studies that actually deserve the title of “case study”. I’d spend my money on liquid to lips marketing that let me know far more detail. I’d ask;

Who sampled my brand?

Where it was sampled?

What time of day?

What kind of cocktail was it used in?

Who enjoyed it and who didn’t?

Did they buy one for someone else?

From whom did they enjoy their drink?

In what on premise account did they enjoy the experience?

In what retailer where they pointed to after the on premise experience?

Did they buy my brand to enjoy at home?

What was the exact correlation between the on premise experience and the retail purchase?

Are you starting to see how deficient today’s sampling programs really are?

At Shared Spirits, we’re challenging the entire system. We’re starting in Nashville with the Shared Spirits app and platform. If you’re an agency seeking to enhance the relationships with your brand clients, talk with us. If you’re happy with your current marketing efforts and you perceive your clients are as well, be warned, there are lots of highly technical spirits oriented plays in the market now. We’re collectively coming and are ready to enhance or disrupt, the choice will be yours.

With respect to the above list, if we couldn’t answer those questions with our current technology, we wouldn’t be asking them.

Sherman Mohr and his team feature spirits and wine marketing and sales pros with decades of experience, tech leadership with Big Four backgrounds and years of enterprise level software firm ownership and marketing pros with digital chops. Oh, and they’re passionate about constant innovation. Something desperately needed in the spirits, wine and beer industries.