If You Market Your Spirits or Wine Brand Functionally, Look Across Emotion. If You Market Emotionally, Look Across Function.

When one generally thinks about spirits or wine sampling, the image that comes to mind generally involves a person standing behind a table or stand and they’re shouting out to you as you stroll through the liquor store. If you have time and any interest whatsoever, you mosey up to the table, listen to a short description of the brand and bam, within 20 seconds have had your sip and then you’re encouraged, sometimes, to take advantage of a promotion to buy the product. Often times, there are state regs that prohibit special promotions for the brand. You simply get pointed to the end cap display where it’s hoped you pick up a bottle. There is no real plan for conversion. There is no plan for follow up after the tasting. This is the definition of functional selling or marketing.


In-Store Tastings

The traditional in-store tasting serves to get the brand in front of consumers who may have otherwise not known about it. It also serves to reinvigorate the brand that may be waining. It is a completely functional and tactical act given the visitor/customer is completely random and seldom is there any pre-marketing of the event.

Sampling at Bars

Special promotions shot girls, merchandise or POS are all part of the functional approach at bars. Agencies generally coordinate these activities. There may be signage, shirts, cozies, or something that draws attention to the brand.

The contrasting method of marketing or messaging is an emotional appeal. Emotional appeal in spirits, wine, and beer marketing is experiential. Think of how people are now interested in experiences. Just showing up for a shot of something is NOT good enough for those who wish for experiences.


In-Store Tastings

The emotional appeal of an in-store tasting is weak. Few retailers actually promote their tastings in any true marketing. Customers view liquor stores as commodity plays even though their brands are supported by these networks. Individuals who patronize liquor stores are generally in a hurry and know what they’re after.

A Sampling at Bars and Restaurants

When sampling takes place emotionally, it would generally be around brand support of a special event, cause, or evening. The brand is making an effort to appeal to the emotional connection garnered by the cause.

Experiential sampling, tastings, and activations leave people with MEMORIES. Absolut called it “Transform Today”. The premise? Brands can no longer just advertise, they have to do something.

These experiences are examples of emotional appeal. Participants are not just seeing an ad, they are part of the ad.

In the perfect world, people have to be part of the action, not standing on the sideline. Absolut called it Deep Play Experiences.

In Blue Ocean Strategy parlance, one is called on to ask the following questions.

If you compete on emotional appeal, what elements can you strip out to make it functional?

If your brand is great at delivering on experiences and emotion, what might you do to deliver on analytics, measurements, and ROI that is tangible?

If you compete on functionality, what elements can be added or changed to make it emotional?

If your brand or agency delivers on tactical functional tools like in-store tastings, what might you do to make these events more of an experience?

When Yellowtail Wines launched, they initially had retail employees dress in the stereotypical Aussie dress. Cheesy, yes, but memorable.

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If you’re interested in learning more about how Sherman Mohr or Shared Spirits Marketing may help your functional delivery of samplings, tastings, and activations become more emotional, or your emotional delivery of the same, become more functional, we’d like to hear from you.