June 05, 2020

By Renita Jude / Global Consultant, Media, Insights Division

In the third of Kantar’s category-specific touchpoint investigations, Renita Jude takes a look at media effectiveness for alcohol brands.  

Whether we are happy or sad, animated or tired, relaxed or anxious, in a group or alone – alcohol can enhance almost any emotion. But how can marketers best connect with their audience?

The recent Jack Daniel’s – With Love, Jack ad neatly showed how it can even be relevant when we’re social distancing.  The science behind why we drink alcohol has many reasons, but the overarching principle is that, when consumed thoughtfully, it creates an experience for the mind and body. By the same token, alcohol brands can maximise marketing effectiveness by blending touchpoints into a rich experience which engages multiple senses.  

Based on Kantar Connect learnings, non-paid touchpoints drive 77% of the impact for alcohol brands, more than other categories. One contributing factor could be the tight legislations in some markets around above-the-line advertising.  45% of touchpoint impact comes from a range of product experiences such as TASTING the brands on nights out, in combination with HEARING strong word-of-mouth. Retail touchpoints such as SEEING the brand on shelf, the look and FEEL of product packaging and in-store promotions contribute another 10%. To fully capture the power of these touchpoints, brands should create immersive experiences through innovation and technology. Social media channels where consumers SHARE experiences and websites featuring e.g. cocktail recipes are becoming more important. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted that alcohol brands can no longer rely just on a physical presence in bars, clubs and restaurants, they also need to offer a captivating virtual experience.

As an example, a whiskey brand in East Asia wanted to promote highball drinks by better understanding the role of different touchpoints across six consumer segments. Kantar Connect identified that product experience was the common touchpoint driving all the segments along with recommendations from specialists. E-commerce websites and online shops specialising in whiskey worked better for heavy whiskey drinkers. Occasional drinkers and aspiring connoisseurs responded well to TV and other informative touchpoints such as comparison websites and distillery tours which enabled them to learn more about the product. Equipped with these learnings, the client successfully re-defined their communication strategy to shift attitudes of the different buyer personas.

Among paid media, despite having relatively high spend levels, TV is more cost-effective compared to other categories, contributing strongly to image associations and purchase motivation. Amongst other paid media touchpoints, OOH relies heavily on synergy with other touchpoints and is not working very well. High costs from premium locations could be driving down effectiveness, but given the nature of the product, this can’t be compromised too much. Facebook and online video ads are exceptionally cost-effective for alcohol brands, around twice as much as other categories.

A popular beer brand collaborated with a Music Festival, designing 6 bottles dedicated to each type of electronic music being performed at the festival. They aimed to use niche touchpoints to reach certain audiences. The assessment by Kantar CrossMedia showed strong uplifts in both creative and brand metrics. Although TV didn’t cut through as expected since the bottles were hardly featured, online media took centre stage with well-targeted personalised ads which cost-effectively generated buzz.

Of course, the consumer landscape for alcohol is not set in stone. Evermore women are becoming key users of the category which will force brands to refine their media strategy, e.g. the ideal sponsorship event will no longer just talk to men. Similarly, we will see a surge in health-conscious, young adults who prefer low/no alcohol drinks and brands might increasingly use targeted online ads and perhaps even channels like e-sports sponsorship to influence these niche groups.

Which alcohol brands do you think have created the best touchpoint cocktail?



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