COVID-19 has had a significant impact on social media consumption in relation to how often users are watching ads and interacting with brands on social media. According to the IZEA Report,61% of social media users say that their social media usage has increased during quarantine. Concerning the spirits industry, the overall purchasing behaviors of consumers have also shifted towards purchasing wine and liquor online and getting it delivered through apps like Drizly and Instacart, and websites like ReserveBar. Cory Rellas, CEO of Drizly, expects the pandemic to accelerate online sales to as much as 8% of all alcohol bought from retailers.Most customers might not have even been aware of these services that allow you to purchase liquor online. Once people realize how easy it is to have alcohol delivered, these behaviors might be the new normal.
It is important for liquor brands to be able to navigate these apps and websites to figure out the best way to let their customers know how to find them. An element of navigating this change is modifying a brands approach to marketing their product, especially when it comes to digital media. Even though promoting sales through social media is extremely important during this time, there must be a balance in content so that the consumer does not feel bombarded with advertisements.You want consumers to follow your social media accounts by creating content they will want to see. If your social media page is only ads, the customer will most likely to unfollow your account.
An easier, more digestible way for brands to promote sales through these apps is with in-app promotions.If you have ever been on any of these apps or websites, you will see many pop-ups and highlighted brands that show up first. All of these brands are paying for that placement to be the first thing you see when you click on a page. This is no different than paying for placement on shelves in a liquor store to have an optimal location. Paying for placement on these apps and websites can be costly and highly competitive, however it is essential for lesser-known brands to utilize this to be seen. Unless these brands are being searched for by name, they will most likely never be seen by a customer looking to try a new brand organically.
The next tip is to be aware of the tone of the world right now. Many companies have pre-planned content for months to come, but it can seem a little tone-deaf during this pandemic. Although some states are beginning to open, the overall feeling of the world right now is that everyone is still staying home. Therefore, it would be ill-advised to push out content of people going out to bars and partying. Brands should reevaluate how they can portray their messaging to fit the current climate. For example, liquor brands can show customers staying at home, creating “quaratini’s”, trying new cocktail recipes, virtual happy hours, highlighting at-home bartenders, promoting local restaurants, etc.
The next tip is to adjust your strategy to accommodate the lack of in-store interaction that is currently taking place. Avery popular marketing tactic for liquor brands before was in-store tastings.This was especially helpful to lesser-known brands that rely on tastings to win over new customers. However, this is no longer an option with limited interaction allowed in-stores. A replacement option to get this same effect online is through influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is a reliable way to get people to feel like they are sampling your product through a reliable source. It is key to find an influencer that shows genuine interest in your product and that it aligns with their brand. That will resonate more with the customer if they believe that the influencer really believes what they are saying about your product. However, there are some qualms that come with influencer marketing. You need to monitor that the influencer you choose has real followers that result in real engagement. If their analytics are inflated with fake followers, you will be wasting money because your promotions will not result in any sales.
Overall, the key message for spirits brands to take away is that the market is ever-changing right now and it is important to be knowledgeable of those changes and open to trying new things. A lot of brands might think that they don’t have to adjust their strategy because this is temporary, but history has shown that it is better for brands to be first movers than the last to change, because some are never able to catch up.