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Top 10 tips for marketing drinks brands

With the face of trade and brand marketing for drinks brands ever changing, marketers are using a whole host of different approaches to gain consumer acceptance and drive sales, writes Joanna Davies, CEO at drink, part of the ZAK Media Group.

With recessionary pressures on spending resulting in declining on-trade visits, operators are facing stiffer competition and seeking a differentiated offering to create richer, unique customer experiences and tempt punters in.

This new on trade environment has created a shift in the working relationship between brands and operators.

Operators have become more and more anti-brand while the shift to a more stripped back interior style has meant branded collateral is being increasingly restricted.

This has resulted in booze marketers no longer being able to rely on back bar displays, paper POS and in-venue communication materials to support in-venue brand awareness.

Perhaps in the future we will see a new age of marketing; an age where marketing departments allocate budgets based on consumers, shoppers or customers rather than media channels.

But until that future arrives, brands must continue to help our clients achieve better on trade results through channel unbiased campaigns that address on trade challenges, barriers and needs.

With all of this in mind, here are some top tips designed to help drinks brands gain success in marketing…

Integration must be taken seriously

In this new era, brand and trade marketing disciplines are increasingly overlapping, demanding a genuine integrated approach to building brands and supporting brand bar call and rate of sale. In order to be effective in the on-trade, brands need to consider the shopper journey starting at home (online or on mobile) rather than the traditional model of outside the pub door, through to the bar.

Be clear what you’re doing here

Many brands fail to consider how their roles change in different on-trade venues and for different occasions. Ensure you can clearly articulate your benefit to consumers in each segment, trade type and for each occasion. Make sure that this benefit is understood by the staff serving the consumer, otherwise you risk being misunderstood.

Create the consumer demand first

Ensure consumers are engaged and connected with the brand before asking for on-trade purchase. In a world where more energy is often expelled on the planning and post event phases of going out, brands need to ensure that they are maximizing their appeal outside of the on-trade environment while connecting this appeal in venue.

Don’t change natural on-trade behaviours, reward them

Today’s consumer won’t be easily deviated from their path by ‘marketing’. No one likes to be told they’re ‘doing it wrong’ so make sure your brand is the one changing to fit in with the consumer’s patterns and not the other way around.

Give your audience something useful

Social currency means everything to this consumer so make the on-trade experience visceral, fun and shareable but above all else easy and natural.

Make a commitment to the channel

Ensure that there is sufficient investment to make a stand. Brands often fail in the on-trade because they fail to engage enough with consumers. Plan your on-trade presence and activity with a year focus as opposed to a campaign focus.

It’s not just about the consumer

With so much effort going on educating and engaging consumers, bar staff are often overlooked. While it is not always possible to directly engage bar staff, consider their work and how your brand can make it easier and more enjoyable.

Be sympathetic to the environment

Cardboard is not appreciated here. Venues want bespoke solutions that reflect their personality as much as that of the brand. Remember that consumers are as present on their phones as they are in the bar.

Make it easy for consumers to buy

Visibility and bar call are critical but with a loss of communication space at point of order brands need to cement the bar call much earlier. Consider how your bar call can be shaped and leveraged in other channels.

Get out there and check it

Ideation without realization is hallucination. If you take the time to plan and create a strong on-trade campaign make sure you are measuring its execution and impact.

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