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Top tips for luxury drinks brands

Sadly there’s no fail-safe method or shortcut to building a luxury drinks brand, but there are certain steps you can take to smooth the way.

To coincide with the luxury focus in December’s issue of the drinks business, we spoke to Gregor Jackson, partner at luxury design consultant gpstudio, whose recent work includes The Whisky Shop outlets in London’s Piccadilly and Manchester.

From capturing consumers’ attention in the first place to retaining and developing their interest, read on for his top tips on helping your brand break into this enticing but cut-throat sector.

10. Express your brand DNA

Ensure that you have a clear definition of your own brand and its DNA.

This should incorporate its values, its history, its story and its vision for the future. Once this has been captured, this should be clearly communicated to your customers and retail partners.

Your physical retail space should be the 3D expression of all of the above, and should truly bring your brand to life.

9. Careful choice of channels

Consider the choice of retail channels and partners, to ensure they align with your brand and ambitions.

By keeping control over the way that your products are distributed and displayed, you retain control of your brand positioning – and, therefore, the way that your customers will perceive you.

8. Connectivity

It’s vital to ensure that every aspect of your customer’s experience is connected.

Your brand and its communication messages should all be amplified across retail presentation both in-store and online, as well as throughout your advertising.

You need to ensure that the same high-end experience is felt every single time your customers encounter your brand.

7. Propel your brand through association

Associations and partnerships make commercial sense for any brand keen to boost their appeal and tap into another audience.

Consider association, partnering, or collaborations with like-minded aspirational brands, or inspirational personalities that will resonate with your target audience.

A great example is Perrier-Jouët Champagne and its long-running association with art and artists, which continues to this day. Recently they’ve done collaborations with the likes of Makoto Azuma Japanese floral artist, and Dutch artist Tord Boontje.

6. Add pop! and flair

The Christmas windows at New York luxury department store Bloomingdale’s

Think carefully about interesting visual merchandising – but, when you do, don’t compare your presentation with other luxury drinks brands. Instead look beyond this and compare yourself with other luxury brands from across the spectrum.

The worlds of jewellery and fashion are particularly good at pushing the boundaries: whether a Hublot holographic watch display, or the windows of Louis Vuitton. How can you translate similar ideas for your product?

5. Lighting

Consider how you could add or integrate lighting into your current retail space to a greater extent as it will always enhance the product.

With drinks brands in particular, correct lighting makes a huge difference to the look of products and can go a long way towards expressing their premium status.

As we feel it’s so vitally important, we have recently introduced a specialist lighting division into our offering so that we can completely integrate lighting into all of our designs.

4. Educate

The Whisky Shop’s layout encourages customers to taste and learn more about its products

Define your target audience and communicate with a tone of voice to suit – but ensure that you’re speaking in plain English so that you can engage and educate the whole spectrum of your consumers. Appeal to the connoisseurs, but talk to the other 95%!

Encourage in-store tastings to build loyalty and give you a great opportunity to showcase new products. A great example of this is The Whisky Shop’s flagship store on Piccadilly, which introduces customers to the process of whisky-making itself and carefully explains the complexities of the product.

3. Encourage brand ambassadors

Let your consumers be your brand ambassadors. This is one of the most effective ways to crack the luxury market – as everyone values recommendations from someone “just like them”.

Build a strategy that encourages and promotes your customers to become ambassadors, including loyalty schemes or club membership.

Royal Salute whisky does this extremely well through connecting customers with their distillery itself so that they can experience the making process and meet the master distiller behind the brand.

2. Surprise and delight

Surprise and delight your customers. When you’re operating in the luxury sphere, this is incredibly important – these consumers are used to the very best.

There’s a whole host of ways that you can support this. Could you improve your service, packaging and after service by offering home delivery, gift wrapping, self-gifting options?

Also, consider a calendar of initiatives that helps you stand out from the crowd. These can range from newsletters highlighting new products with personalised suggestions for each customer, to exclusive in-store events which your customers show how much they are appreciated.

1. Don’t stand still

Keep re-inventing! You should always present something new and exciting for your customers to sustain their interest and provide compelling reasons for them to keep coming back.


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