From extensive work in the alcoholic drink sector, Brand Edge can safely say that most research conducted in alcoholic drinks asks the wrong questions.
Research generally focuses on creating and measuring criteria linked to brand preference.
Yet despite the many millions spent of marketing, in the eyes of drinkers, most alcohol brands are pretty interchangeable.
The perhaps unpalatable truth and ice cold reality is that if a particular bar, club or store doesn’t offer their usual brand, drinkers will find a similar alternative pretty quickly (Carlsberg or Carling? Hendricks or Haymans?, Glenfiddich or Glenmorangie? Brooklyn or Brewdog?)
When it comes to alcohol no-one leaves a venue or store empty handed to find their preferred brand elsewhere.
Yes, drinkers can usually decode brand propositions, tell you about a brand’s most recent comms campaign, identify where is it from and explain how it’s taste profile may differ slightly from competitors but do these things drive unswerving loyalty… no they don’t.
And with experimentation and discovery now at the heart of many alcohol categories (gin, single malts, craft ale) many drinkers find that not stocking their brand preference is often a positive – as it’s an opportunity to try something new.
So what does this tell us?
It tells us that an obsessional drive for brand preference is both wrong and an illusion.
In our view, whilst appreciating it’s often easier said than done, brands just need to get into the drinkers’ consideration set – to be a perfectly acceptable option and then work bloody hard in the last 5 yards (whether on or off trade) to make sure your brand is selected at that moment of purchase.
We’ve seen many, many theoretical “first preference” brands have their sale hijacked by a smarter and nimbler competitor that understands this.
To reflect this reality, our approach to insight takes a different route and anchors around Impact, Engagement, Activation and Advocacy. This approach has seen several brands we’ve worked with in the sector make significant progress and strategy changes for the better.
Brand Edge is an insight and research agency with a well-established specialism in the alcoholic drinks sector, based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.