New routes to market

Drinks that once had only two markets – home and the bar – must now prove their purpose and role in different situations. Drinks brands have always been good at creating pillars around events like the World Cup or Fathers’ Day, and there is scope for them to create further such occasions.

Making more effective use of data generated online and in-store is crucial for brands to personalise the relationship further. Creating intimacy means knowing your customer’s behaviour beyond the purchase, including online and social channels, time spent engaging with brands and peer recommendations.

With a data approach, drinks brands can also act as an informed guide for consumers helping to de-risk what it a relatively high value purchase. Data also enables new types of partnerships. Rather than being a category killer, Amazon’s access to millions of customers could transform it from competitor to partner - think online recommendations offering purchasers of F1 merchandise the opportunity to buy limited edition bottles of sponsors’ brands like Martini or Johnnie Walker.

Another example, Foster’s Comedian in Your Pocket app shows how brands can effectively bypass the retailer enhancing the drinker’s experience in the process. By building this relationship independently using digital POS and online engagement, brands can drive traffic through targeted and personalised offers.

Drinks companies can also forge direct links with consumers. Bacardi is showing the way with its Jamie Oliver link up, Drink Tube, providing advice and inspiration on a broad range of drinks. The social space is now as competitive as the shopper aisle and brands have to discover ways of switching campaign excitement into those channels.

Existing channels will remain important for drinks brands, but standing still is not an option. To do so risks an even bigger gap emerging between them and the consumer. To remain on more intimate terms, they have to demonstrate their purpose and relevance in a changing drinking culture. And they have to create and develop new routes to market that will ensure that they continue to serve the consumer.