While the concept of brand activation is relatively new in marketing strategies, it has become popular in recent years, especially within the alcohol industry. In today’s competitive markets where it has become increasingly challenging to grab the attention of consumers, brand activations are a key component of any multi-touch marketing plan. Brand activations also draw on the creativity of marketers, by forcing them to think outside the box to find new ways of directly engaging with consumers and building the brand.
What is brand activation and how does it work?
At its heart, a brand activation works by finding ways to engage directly with target audiences with the goal of building awareness about the company. There are limitless types of activation events that can be organized and hosted for this purpose. The main requirement is that the event activation produces a curated customer experience that creates a positive association with the company.
Since drinking is generally a social activity, the beverage alcohol industry is especially well suited to this type of strategy. That is why the industry has been an early adopter of brand activation and experiential marketing techniques. In our digital age, brand activations have become an important way to foster face-to-face interactions for both established and emerging brands. Everything from pop-up bars and mixology tutorials to window displays have been used to increase brand awareness and consumer engagement.
The Importance of Brand Activations
The marketing and advertising landscape is constantly changing and activating brands is an effective response to emerging trends. Consumers aren’t buying into traditional advertising methods as much as they once were. At the same time, new brands are constantly hitting the market and crowding the field. These factors make it more important than ever to foster positive interactions with customers that promote the brand image and build long-term brand loyalty.
Get Creative with Your Marketing Activations
- Build Your Event around a Cause
A significant number of Millenials and Gen Z consumers are guided by a sense that they want to do good in the world and they look for brands that share these values. The tequila brand Patron is one example of how a company has tapped into the values of their target audience using brand activation. They hosted Earth Day events at locations around the world. In London, the event was a cocktail masterclass that included a three-course meal prepared with “discarded ingredients.” This helped reduce waste and demonstrate their commitment to the environment.
- Create a Destination
Offering free drinks is no longer enough to bring in new customers. Today’s consumers want drinking to be just one aspect of a larger experience. That means that brands have to find ways to curate a destination event that creates the opportunity to incorporate the drink. The gin Brand Monkey 47 was able to do this by hosting a NYC based pop-up they called “The Wild Monkey.” They even hosted private events for the movie industry, which was debuting new films. They were also at a magazine launch and a podcast taping. At these various events, consumers could swing by and check out interactive installations, take advantage of photo opportunities and even drink a mocktail. Most importantly, the brand was careful to make sure they were telling their own story by including a botanical wall that included the ingredients that go into making gin. These highly interactive and multi-layer events were great examples of how brand activations can work.
- Help Event Attendees Relax
Many Gen Z consumers are rightfully wary about mixing social media and drinking. This directly ties into their fact that they prioritize mental health. In fact, mental health is ranked second in importance only to spending time with loved ones. Desperados, a brand of tequila-flavored beer was able to appeal to these Gen Z concerns by hosting a house party where guests traded their phones for a free beer upon entry. The phones then became a part of a light display that was synced with the music. Everyone was able to relax and engage with each other and the brand in a positive way.
- Understand Customer Aspirations
Aspirational marketing has long been an effective tool, especially with luxury brands. However, it can also be used as a part of a brand activation. For example, Guinness held a limited campaign where everyone who bought a beer was automatically entered for the opportunity to win a free trip to Dublin for themselves and four friends. The trip included flights on a private jet, which is certainly an aspirational way to travel.
Other Considerations for Your Brand Activation
- Your audience is number one. Think about how your event will benefit them in some way. Will it address a pain point, meet their aspirations or surprise them in a meaningful way? Starting your planning in this mindframe will set you up for success.
- Make your event experience easy to share. Social media is a powerful tool that can turn your consumers into brand ambassadors. You can even provide some reward or incentive for sharing.
- Try to stand out. While your event might not go 100% as planned, it should still have the goal of exceeding expectations and providing an unforgettable experience. This is where your team has to get creative.
A brand activation is a targeted and effective way to address the needs and wants of today’s consumers. The alcohol beverage industry is uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the potential of this activation marketing strategy. Creating an event-based experience that fosters face-to-face engagement is one of the best ways to build a brand and stand out in a crowded field.
To learn more about field activity management and how you can optimize your operations as you activate your brand in the field, check out our blog:
What are brand activations and experiential marketing?
Essentially, brand activations or activation marketing and experiential marketing are ways to host an event and create an experience that builds a positive relationship between consumers and the brand.
Why are brand activations important for alcohol brands?
Today’s consumers are turning away from traditional advertising methods. At the same time, new brands are constantly entering the market, making it even more challenging for brands to both stand out from the competition and connect with customers. Brand activations address these new challenges in an effective way.
What should you consider when planning brand activations?
Build your event around a cause, make sure that you are creating a destination and not just another place to drink, incorporate elements that help attendees relax and let go and try to tap into customer aspirations.