The alcohol industry is a unique vertical, selling a specialised product in a marketplace that craves decadence but is, in reality, heavily regulated.
It takes work to generate brand growth in those circumstances. Digital marketing and the ubiquity of social media have historically helped level the playing field for emerging brands. But now, paid ad campaigns and sponsored celebrity marketing make it difficult for brands with smaller budgets to make a dent in the market.
Luckily, we know a thing or two about supporting alcohol brand growth, from gaining more online interactions to the brass-tacks practicalities of shipping logistics.
Whether you're an eCommerce alcohol brand or a brick-and-mortar shop looking to expand your alcohol sales to new markets, the tips below can help you create a brand growth strategy that works.
1. Refine your USP and build genuine customer connections
Your mom was right: you're special. Your brand offers customers something unique - a unique selling proposition or USP.
Your USP could be an aspect of your product, like your hyperlocal ingredients or revolutionary brewing process. Or it could be something special about your company, like the charitable efforts you support or the diversity of your board of directors. It could even be a feature as mundane-yet-practical as unlimited free shipping.
When you pinpoint your USPs, you understand why a customer would choose your product over a similar, competing one.You also begin to understand your customer better as you explore the link between your product, your USP, and your customer's habits, tastes, and interests.
When you can draw clear lines between those three items, you're on your way to marketing better and selling more.
But marketing strategy is no longer about getting consumers to do/buy/think what you want them to. It's about creating an honest, frank conversation between your brand and your customers.
Shoppers expect to have a legitimate connection with the companies that create their products based on that brand's values, ethics, and customer service. As the cultural strategist Ivan Askwith said, "We need to understand that effective marketing is no longer about making consumers serve our agenda but finding meaningful opportunities to serve theirs."
Key takeaway: Know your company's USP and share it, with honesty and sincerity, with your customers. Remember that today's marketing means finding your brand's niche place in your customers' agendas.
2. Don't restrict yourself to the predictable
When you find your USPs, it can be tempting to assume that your brand growth strategy should entail repackaging them on social media, ad infinitum, and watching the online sales roll in. But even the most compelling USPs will get stale if repeated too often.
Instead, look for ways to make meaningful connections with your online marketplace and in the real world, too.
Create content that shows the reality behind your brand - the background stories of your ingredients suppliers, the daily struggle of owning an alcohol e Commerce company, and the delight you experience when you meet consumers who love your alcoholic beverages.
Key takeaway: If there's one thing to remember when creating content for your brand growth strategy, it is to "be honest." That doesn't always mean you're right, perfect, or polished. You're simply real.
If your brand is unique, then it isn't boring. Be playful and surprising but in a familiar way. Remain professional, of course, and considerate of others. Remain true to your company values and your USPs. But allow your branding to experiment, explore, and possibly even dazzle your customers.
And, in the spirit of trying new things, we move on to our next step…
3. Be open to expanding to new markets
From a business perspective, it pays to monitor current alcohol industry trends to explore where alcohol is selling and which countries are the most promising for alcohol brand growth opportunities.
According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, trends indicate that drinkers in Brazil and China are the most likely to try a new alcoholic beverage. European markets like Italy, Spain, UK, France, and Germany are also willing to give new alcohols a shot.
With social channels, online advertising, and other digital marketing strategies, expanding your online alcohol sales to new markets is achievable. As we'll explore below, it's practical and easy to accomplish when you work with the right vendors.
Key takeaway: Look at your market niche and see where other brands are expanding. A move into a new market might be right for your company, too.
4. Work with alcohol influencers
If we could offer one brand growth strategy for all direct to consumer alcohol brands, it would be to partner with an alcohol influencer.
Millennials command a significant share of the alcoholic beverage market because they are above the legal drinking age, and their discretionary spending budgets are growing.
They also trust social media influencers, turning to them for cocktail recipes, alcohol recommendations, and drink-mixing ideas. It's reported that 50% of Millennials trust product recommendations from influencers.
Working with an influencer whose followers align with your ideal buyer is a great way to get the attention of new customers and expand your loyal customer base. We detail how to work with an influencer in this blog.
Key takeaway: Find an influencer whose audience, values, and persona align with yours, and reach out to them to talk about how you could work together.
5. Find forward-thinking vendors
The vendors you choose are like an extension of your workforce. Like your internal employees, your vendors should be forward-thinking individuals who understand brand growth and want to help you achieve it for your company.
At Tipple, we specialise in supporting brand growth for companies who want to sell alcohol to European markets by handling every aspect of online order fulfilment, including customs clearance and tax compliance.
Ensure every member of your vendor team - from the farmers or food suppliers where you source your ingredients to the delivery person who handles the final stage of order fulfilment - is onboard to support your growth.
Key takeaway: Work with vendors who enjoy helping companies grow. Those are the vendors who will help you identify opportunities to improve your product or service, expand your sales, and pocket more profit.
6. Complete the picture with a seamless delivery experience
Word of mouth is still the most powerful way to grow brand loyalty, and a positive customer experience will generate excellent word-of-mouth advertising for your company.
If you want customers to be happy with their purchase, tell their friends about your company, and order from you again, a seamless delivery experience goes a long way to securing customer loyalty.
Selling alcohol direct to consumer means that a large part of customer service is out of your hands - you're entrusting it to your delivery partner.
But your customer doesn't see the difference between your alcohol brand and your delivery vendor; the two are intrinsically linked in their minds. So choosing the right logistics company to handle order fulfilment is vital to building customer loyalty and expanding your brand's position in the marketplace.
Key takeaway: Work with a logistics company that prioritises the customer experience and has unrivalled expertise in shipping alcohol across borders. (Hint - it's Tipple! Take our software for a spin to see why.)