Innovation in the Experience Age: 3 key ways to make your Alcohol Brand Stand Out

Innovation in the Experience Age: 3 key ways to make your Alcohol Brand Stand Out


A recent presentation to the Drinks Trade association provided a chance to explore the new zeitgeist facing the beverage industry in its ongoing quest to build ‘share of throat’. There are currently three key areas where Nielsen research shows alcohol brands can really shine – innovation, consumer-centric insights and targeted message dissemination.

Innovating for breakthrough

The Australian liquor market is in longer-term volume decline – research shows we simply drink less than we used to. So brands need to create appeal. Recent Nielsen innovation research from the US shows that to obtain real breakthrough, products need to grow the category, provide new occasions and allow consumers to trade-up to a more premium offer.

But really it’s about putting the consumer at the centre of all activity. Determining what new twist on an existing product will be appealing and intriguing to consumers. True demand-based innovation plots emotional and social connections equally with the functional benefits, so brands need to deliver the whole package to gain appeal with drinkers in its target market.

A US brand had great innovation success recently is Anneuheser Busch with its introduction of Bud Lite Marga-Ritas. The company created a female-friendlier alternative to beer in a new pack-size with very impressive results. The brand gained $500m retail sales in first two years, 70% incremental to category.

While innovation is a silver bullet to finding growth, the old adage of ‘high risk for high return’ is simply unnecessary. When you place the consumer in centre focus you have the ability to de-risk innovation. It’s about working smarter, not harder.

Focus on consumer-centric insights for growth

To build brands in a low-growth environment, consumer insights are crucial. Nielsen research shows that by looking at consumers with an ability to pay and a connection to your messages and brand, you can locate super-consumers. As little as 10% of your consumers can deliver up to 70% of your volume. Brands should therefore focus on locating and marketing to their ‘super consumer’ group for greater returns.

In Australia we have recently seen modest population growth driven by immigration – predominately opening up new Asian-centric offerings. The implications include: new taste profiles and the chance for established Asian drinks to follow into the market as authentic offerings.

Likewise, Millennial consumers demand experience and a knowledge of the story and brand to see if their values align. Brands need to focus on this and offer authentic experiences for their target market to discover the product.

Getting the message out despite fragmenting media landscape

While there has been much attention around the growth of mobile devices including tablets, there is also a myth of declining TV viewership – it’s not. We’re just consuming media in different ways. People are watching TV shows on demand, or streaming them online.

This opens up huge opportunity to leverage cross-platform advertising. Nielsen research has shown that by adding online execution to TV advertising, brand uplift rates doubled.

However brands also need to be aware of privacy implications in the new digital world. Nielsen has worked hard with Facebook to provide advertisers the ability to know if the audience they paid for was the audience they received. Similarly, the desire for advertisers to be able to trade off audience size with real engagement can now be effectively leveraged with the work we are doing with Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings.

A decade ago we were comfortable with very linear models of managing alcohol messages to consumers. These days the numbers of levers are bigger. The challenge is to know the opportune times to pull them – and how hard.


3,463 new launches tested, just 12 were true innovation breakthroughs