Appearances matter, even for craft spirits. While a distillery's success ultimately relies on its product, something still needs to get customers to buy a bottle and give it a chance. That something is often the label.
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The past several years has been incredible for alcohol sales, but none greater than hard seltzers. This latest alcoholic beverage trend has taken the world by storm and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. According to Business Insider, the hard seltzer market is currently worth $550 million and is expected to exceed $2.5 Billion by the end of 2021. Stores are struggling to keep shelves stocked as demand continues to outrun supply. But what is making this drink so popular? A few reasons may be that hard seltzers are great tasting, trendy, and commonly viewed as a healthier alternative to beer.
Distilleries succeed by doing research, finding their niche, and focusing on their target market with an eye at branching out to other related markets. Data insights can nudge distilleries in the right direction by providing consumer insights.
We all know that it takes more than an excellent product to be successful. Heck, if a good product was all it took to make a million bucks, we could have had Grandma make her meatloaf for us instead of building a distillery. Distilleries have to create a feel, a mental and emotional picture in consumers’ heads that pops up whenever they see a label or hear the name.
The geeks have inherited the earth, or at least are the driving force in pop-culture these days. It makes sense when you think about it.
We all want to keep reliving our childhood, so we get new Star Wars movies forty years after the original and a new Star Trek series this fall, along with a slew of superhero movies.
And then there is gaming. Many video games have deeper and more developed characters and complex storylines that outclass most anything you see on TV or the theatre.
Geek fandom also draws in people from all walks of life. Someone who grew up in the middle of Los Angeles and a person from rural West Virginia will have an instant bond and lots to talk about when they start talking about the first time they saw Star Wars.
So, what does this have to do with the distilling industry? Marketing of course, because geeks like to drink. Just go to any convention, and wait until the sun goes down to see for yourself.
The other day, I came across an article highlighting a set of Dungeons & Dragons dice made from the oak barrels used at the Jack Daniels distillery. These aren't exactly cheap either.
Dungeons & Dragons
Ever wonder where the idea of levels in Battlefield came from? Long before the Jack Daniels dice were ever made, liquor and whiskey have been a part of many a D&D player's life. Hang around the hobby long enough, and you will see several players who use Crown Royal bags to carry their dice around.
Distillers are appreciative of every sale, but let's be honest. There are some customers we don't want as the poster child of our respective brands. That list might include the stereotypical super nerd who sits in the basement of the college library playing D&D.
D&D players are the geekiest of the geeks, but you want them front and center. Big name celebrities and sports stars like Sophia Vergara and her husband Joe Manganiello, Vin Diesel, James Franco, and Tim Duncan all play Dungeons & Dragons.
D&D is popular in the military. The late Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons & Dragons, has a son who plays the game his father made and is an officer in the US Army.
The point is that getting geeky with the liquor can be an excellent way to bring in more customers, and build up a brand. It can be an exceptional way to connect with customers from otherwise very different demographics. And as the examples of D&D players shows, the notion of them being social rejects is outdated and inaccurate.
Seek what the geek community is up to, and find out if there is anything that can be connected to your brand. Sponsoring local events and the smaller cons (geek fandom conventions) can go a long way. A distillery can also take a more direct approach.
Hit shows like Game of Thrones have made their own line of beers, and Romulan Ale was a staple at a Star Trek themed attraction in Vegas. There was even a French winery who made bottle labels with characters from an anime (Japanese cartoons that may or may not be kid friendly).
Geeks have more disposable income on average, and it isn't all spent on video games and miniatures. Get them to spend it on your hooch.