It is time for us to see alcohol brands supporting restaurants in new ways. As we move into October, November, December in the alcohol industry or what is commonly known as OND, I’ve become fascinated by the different ways brands view their marketing priorities.
I have been thinking a good deal about the adage, brands are built in the on-premise. I just haven’t been seeing this adage play out in real life. Certainly, cocktail, wine, and beer culture are influenced by bar and restaurant placements. I still enjoy discovering a great cocktail at a bar when recommended by a bartender.
Recently, Steve Chasen, VP trade marketing at Campari stated; ““What’s probably been getting turned on its head over the last couple of years is this sequence where consumers touch your product first and understand your product first.”, suggesting e-commerce and social media are driving most of the disruption.
For a brand like Casamigos, a consumer’s first point of contact was almost certainly through digital media featuring George Clooney. But even for a brand that leveraged George Clooney’s celebrity status to gain awareness, the on-premise was critical for sampling and reinforcing the quality of the product. As the Casamigos’ CEO Lee Einsidler told Beverage Media Group in a 2017 interview, “Most ultra-premium brands are built on-premise, and that has always been our focus. People might try it because they heard it’s George Clooney’s tequila, but it’s got to deliver.”
For Aperol, a brand unquestionably built in the on-premise, this sequence has also been muddled by the digital age. Rather than discovering the product at a bar, consumers could very easily have their first interaction with a bright-orange spritz through the Instagram post of a friend or influencer, which is definitely complimentary (perhaps critical) to on-premise sales. Pregaming on awareness means that when the consumer sees a tray of the bright orange cocktails delivered to the table next to them, they are more likely to order one themselves.
Chasen, who played a critical role in executing Aperol’s winning strategy, conceded that many of the brand-building strategies traditionally executed in the on-premise are moving to other channels, but “someone has got to try your brand and figure out if they like it, and for most American consumers, that’s a bar. That’s universal. That’s forever”.” This from https://research.rabobank.com/far/en/sectors/beverages/can-you-still-build-brands-on-premise.html
I was glad to run into this post from Rabobank. I witness so much emphasis and effort on retail that I’ve wondered why more attention isn’t paid to the restaurant partner and more specifically to the person who actually drinks the product.
What one gleans from the posts and coverage of this topic is that social media and digital media have helped drive brand awareness and first exposure to brands. The same exposure that used to be the realm of bar placements and traditional media exposure.
Revenue driven from on-premise placement is still a key driver in the industry. This became very clear over the last couple of years when industry revenue dropped but overall consumption when up.
When I think of a brand’s success, it features these components. I think it is possible for a brand to experience the following.
- Immensely successful retail presence. (Think Jack Daniels, Jameson, Tito’s)
- On-premise success with a footprint across the country, if not world. (Think Jack and Tito’s)
- E-commerce presence so online ordering and delivery are possible in all markets where it is legal to do so.
- A growing knowledge of WHO your drinker is. A growing understanding and dataset of who, where, how they enjoy your product, and how much the customer spends on it monthly and annually with a developing means to OWN them and make offers to them.
It appears to me that many brands are experiencing on-premise success through shear hustle. There are more subtle and sophisticated ways to increase that business with a combination of tech, social, and traditional sales.
We have shown how support of on-premise partners with campaigns run through our Campaign Management Machine here at Shared Spirits provide on-premise sampling, activation, and compelling reasons for restaurants and bars to carry brands they may have otherwise taken a pass on.
In our case, we like to say, we’re a marriage of Drizly and Venmo all pointed toward the melding of events, on-premise activation, and retail pull through. All while providing brands the potential of owning the relationship with the consumer of their product.
If any of this sounds interesting in the context of growing your brand, shoot our CEO Sherman Mohr a message. Also, feel free to reach out to our founders, Sherman Mohr or Justin Maestas.