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Relaunching a drinks category to new audiences

As consumers we're spoilt for choice when it comes to drinking alcohol. We've never had more options to choose from in bars, restaurants, pubs and on supermarket shelves, writes Carly Vrettos

Carly Vrettos Five by Five

This increased competition has meant that it's even more important that marketers try harder than ever to appeal to new as well as old audiences.

One of the best examples of a drinks category relaunching itself to appeal to new audiences is the beer industry. Craft beers weren't a new creation, but take-up from millennials turned the category from a drink older males enjoyed at their local, into a drink younger audiences enjoyed on a night out. 

Part of the reason behind this trend explosion was the way craft beer brands, and their distributors, tapped into the millennial desire to 'quest' - to find out more about the drink they were consuming, and share this knowledge with their peers as a form of social currency. By arming consumers with the story behind the product, you can quickly create advocates who will recommend your products, and tell your brand story to others. This is a particularly powerful marketing channel, because consumers trust recommendations from their peers above all else.  

Wine is at a similar pivot point to where the beer industry was a few years back, it needs to start appealing to new audiences to drive growth. The problem however, is that consumers have been left feeling overwhelmed by the choice and variety of wine on restaurant menus and supermarket shelves.

Confusion is prevalent in budget conscious millennials, who are spending 18% less on wine off-trade than the UK average. By educating this audience, there's an opportunity to make wine a more appealing choice and drive frequency.  For affluent millennials who are buying wine more than the UK average, they also lack confidence in knowing which wines to buy. Budget conscious millennials will opt for well-known brands, while their affluent counterparts rely on recommendations, awards and tasting notes or defer the decision to someone else. 

To combat this lack of confidence in both sets of audiences, Five by Five worked with wine wholesaler Bibendum to relaunch its wine discovery app Plonk. Using a fun, visual format, the app aims to open the wine category to new audiences by providing easy to digest information on the different types of grapes, food and wine matches as well as a taste test to help identify the kinds of wines you might like to drink. Plonk also features a photo sharing element, where users can share their favourite wine moments - showing that wine isn't just for grown-up dinner parties, but can be enjoyed as part of any occasion. 

It's a similar idea to the Britain's Beer Alliance's Beer Match campaign which ran last year. Aimed at introducing beer as a drink you can also enjoy with food, consumers could ask for the best beer type to have with a dish of their choice over Twitter. 

Similarly, specific drinks brands can follow this questing formula. Take Patrón tequila. It wanted to help move tequila away from the perception that it was enjoyed only as a shot drink. The campaign focused on a competition for professional bartenders and mixologists to identify the best Patrón cocktail. Entrants received 'The Perfectionists' Handbook' which educated them about the drinks' provenance and quality. By equipping them with knowledge of the ingredients, its history and production methods, Patrón was able to showcase and translate the premium nature of its product. 

By helping consumers identify and discover more about your product via questing, you can create ready-made brand advocates. This knowledge, such as knowing the perfect wine or beer to match with your favourite meal, becomes social currency that people will use with their peers. This peer recommendation is the most trusted method of brand communication and can be the silver bullet for drinks brands and distributors eager to expand their consumer audience. 

12 September 2016