How Alcohol Brands Can Catch the Wave of Experience


Wilderness’ Tom Jarvis thinks brands in the alcohol industry can use the retail resurgence to connect with their young audience. Here, he explores the need for brand campaigns to be experience-driven.

As the world resurfaces after two years of pandemic, the experience economy is set to explode; a disruption caused by young people as they seek out experiences that enrich their lives and connect them with the people and activities most important to them.

From sun-seekers heading off for their first vacation in more than two summers to music lovers filling their months with festivals, there’s a universal feeling that people are ready to go again.

Focused on experience

In a recent study by Eventbrite, it was found that over 65% of Britons aged 18-34 say they are “more satisfied with live experiences than buying an item of the same value”. 62% plan to increase the amount of money they spend on experiences, rather than possessions, over the next 12 months.

As experiences and events shape our culture in the months to come, it will be the brands able to amplify that culture through community (especially on social media) that will win. Brands must prepare to reactively engage in real time with this new experience-driven economy. At Wilderness, we work with brands like Heineken and other top brands to achieve this. But why is it relevant for alcohol brands?

Well, we often associate a drink with good times with friends. For many young people, alcohol brands represent or reflect a broader culture, whether it is lifestyle, music or events. For example, consider how closely Red Stripe is associated with the Notting Hill Carnival or how, for more than a decade, Tennent has appropriated the conversation about music festivals in Scotland.

For alcohol brands, the boom in the experience economy presents a unique opportunity to project that culture and what those experiences stand for – ensuring that they grab the attention of those immersed in them. Whether your brand is a sponsor, an organizer, or just looking to add hype to the event, audiences are looking for content that connects them to the culture.

Alcohol brands can capitalize on the community

Young people want brands that create a sense of community and togetherness – something we aim to foster in our work with Southern Comfort, taking a once outdated brand and breathing new life and relevance into it.

Over the course of 12 months, we aligned the brand with key moments (such as Pride and Mardi Gras), created content that spoke to online culture, engaged fans directly in the conversation, and curated a collection of best-known creators. under the name “Friends of SoCo”. ‘ to produce content on behalf of the brand.

All of this led to an explosion in organic engagement (up over 280% year over year) due to the public feeling that the brand was part of a larger community and culture. .

It’s not just alcohol brands that can benefit from this wake-up call. Any brand that wants to engage and connect with their young audience in an authentic and meaningful way can take an experience-driven approach. The challenge for brands is to remain agile and responsive. As more and more users expect instant engagement and connection with an event or experience, brands’ presence “in the moment” is essential.

Authentic Activations

Brands can also lead the way by creating their own culture. Spotify recently showed the power of creating authentic moments with its audience by opening a greasy spoon cafe in London called “Greasy Tunes”, bringing fans and artists together.

Olga Puzanova, Spotify’s Head of Consumer Marketing for UK & Ireland, said: “We know that Gen Z are looking for more than just a listening experience: they are looking for brands and products that enable a engagement and emotional connection. . And that’s exactly what the “Greasy Tunes” experience offers: a real connection with their favorite creators in a fun, intimate and immersive setting. »

This ability of Spotify to connect its audience to the culture it represents in a unique way is something I think we’ll see replicated more as brands seek to create experiences they can own and define – with liquor brands in the foreground.


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