There are two types of people, Buyers & Drinkers. They are emphatically NOT the same thing ~ although, like a good conundrum, they CAN be the same thing!
The marketing demographic for the new whisky drinker is the 28 year old, uber cool, hipster type. Probably with a beard, maybe with a cagoule…. and that’s just the girls….
The problem here is that this dude doesn’t BUY much whisky…. this character just drinks it.
This character is found at whisky festivals making the most of drinking not buying. Any whisky they do buy is on supermarket special, then, having it on show to impress, they are unlikey to share. The bottle will last for eternity.
There are two type of buyers ~ the buyers of GLASSES of whisky in bar, and the buyers of BOTTLES. Some people are both. The hipster buys a good dram for themself in a bar, to show off ~ they do not buy a round. But they will only buy one. The rest of the time they drink what others buy them.
So, if the marketing demographic are not buying whisky; who IS buying it?
JOE and JOLEEN BLOGS BUY WHISKY.
They are the buyers and the hipster is the drinker. Yet the marketing objectives target the hipster……?
Same thing upon visiting distilleries. Hipster tours distilleries on the £6 tour. If any whisky is bought it is by whoever has taken them to the distillery with money from their parents. The people on the expensive tours are not the hipsters. The people on the expensive tours are Joe & Joleen. But who cares for them?
The drinkers are the ones who fill in questionaires, they want attention, they want to be heard. These people are NOT the buyers. Not in the main. The buyers are the ones who come to the distilleries. The drinkers are too mean – Unless it is a festival, then they are there for the freebies. The buyers very seldom fill in market research or forms etc as they are far too busy living life and making money, so they can afford to buy whisky.
The buyers are an overlooked positivity.
The thinking behind marketing to the hipsters is probably to capture their interests and they will stay loyal, and when they can afford to, they will buy the whisky to which they are loyal.
Nope, doesn’t work. The hipster is too mean to be loyal. And by the time they can afford to buy whisky there is something new in fashion and as they are a hipster ~ albeit an old one, they want to be seen drinkng whatever is in fashion.
Loyalty with whisky buying is not the same psychology as loyalty in car buying. A way to develop loyalty is to invoke emotion, invoke a feeling of belonging. If you do this, people will turn to you, in the same way people will turn to an old friend.
So, what needs to be done is the whisky must be personalised. This cannot be done in isolation. A whisky needs a host.
The host can be a place, or a person. For example, John Campbell is Laphroaig’s Host. He takes Laphroaig out into the world. People connect with him. They form friendships. Back home, Laphroaig Distillery itself is the Host ~ (and also, David Adams!) The buildings, the location, the friendliness of the staff , all these things act as ‘HOST’.
Laphroaig have a very loyal following because there are different layers to connect to Laphroaig. Laphroaig do the hipster thing, but they humanise it and connect with the hipster’s family… because after all, they are the ones who buy the whisky the hipster drinks…
The only way to succeed is to share and connect with Joe and Joleen Blogs on a human level. Glasgow Distillery are great at this, they have Liam Hughes. He is the Host. People can’t yet visit Glasgow Distillery, but already people are bonded to it because Liam HIMSELF affords them a ‘place’ to connect to emotionally.
Jim McEwan was a great host for Bruichladdich. Anthony’s boys are great hosts for Kilchoman when they are out on the road… (be better if their accents were Ilich though, but we can’t have everything…!.) And Kilchoman, itself is the Host when people come to the distillery. It is small and cute enough to be held in people’s mind and heart. People understand the farm distillery and connect on many levels.
If you are the hipster setting up a distillery and you are too mean to buy drink and share of yourself, no one will connect with you and your brand will be empty. All these achingly cool, uber trendy start ups will get nowhere unless the team have a real face, a real host. Rolling around with other uber trendy hipsters will not make any money what so ever, as, the other hipsters will be jealous and secretly won’t help (we can make people ACT like they love us, but we can’t make them really love us…)
Another marketing “off piste d” is the outdated, childish concept of insulting the audience and believing they will still like you. This outmoded psychological programme was failing in the 80’s, even as it was being developed. Telling the audience that whisky buyers are stupid (not the assembled company as you are part of an elite squad….?!) but all others out there; is the pinnacle of an aggressive * large brand* ‘hit them with a stick and they will like you’ marketing strategy. It is completetly wrong. And it is utterly boring. Not to mention offensive. Joe & Joleen Blogs are the buyers of whisky – putting food in our mouths – and we call them stupid….. ?? Everyone should take marketing lessons from Ratners arrogance.
It is this pseudo ‘whisky apartheid’ we are trying move away from.
Marketing is filled up with spread sheets, data analysing and is so self referential, it has little bearing on what is really happening.
Perhaps if marketing strategy was seen more as the initial presentation ~ like the catwalk fashions presented by designers, by the time the fabrics etc are brought to the public, they are shaped to meet the people on the street.
Whisky brands could do the same. Develop multi tiered marketing strategies. One for the introduction of the product; the showcasing, the catwalk level; one for the brand home, one for the people who are actually going to buy it and so on…
And, most importantly, employ people who actually know about whisky!