The Booze Bin

Malternatives – Marketing Lessons from Alcohol Segmentation

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about the seemingly out-of-nowhere arrival of Not Your Father’s Root Beer, and the marketing lessons to be learned from their hugely successful launch into the market. But six months have already passed, and we are beginning to see more and more hard soda brands on the shelves, just as we predicted. These beer-slash-soda brands have taken the market by storm, representing one of the most popular new trends in alcohol segmentation: “malternatives” aka flavored alternative malt beverages. Marketing professionals should take note of this influx of new brands and the buzz they generate to discover the lessons hiding just below the bottle caps.

Craft beer bar

“Malternatives” aka flavored alternative malt beverages, may soon be poured at a bar near you

Identify Whitespace

While craft brewers are taking market share away from megabrewers like MillerCoors, the industry titans are firing back with their own new product launches. They’ve honed in on what they see as “whitespace” in the market, opportunities to develop new products in a seemingly untapped category.

According to Bryan Ferschinger, MillerCoors’ director of innovation, “We’re seeing…


How Millennials Are Shaping the Alcoholic Beverage Industry


New Year’s Day 2016 rang in a new era for booze marketers: On January 1, all millennials were of legal drinking age.

Millennials are now between 21 and 38 years old and 79 million strong. Even without the last stragglers reaching 21, millennials consumed 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015, according to a recent report on U.S. wine drinkers from the Wine Market Council (WMC). That represents 42 percent of all the wine consumed in this country last year, more than any other age group (Baby Boomers came in second with 114.1 cases).

Last month, I wrote about WMC’s presentation on marketing to women wine drinkers. Wine Spectator’s Ben O’Donnell produced an excellent summary of the WMC millennial data specific to wine in his post here. Building on those metrics, here are my three “a-ha” moments and key takeaways for marketers seeking to reach millennial drinkers:

1. There are two types of millennials

Segmenting millennials into older (30 to 38 years old) and younger (21 to 29 years old) groups reveals substantive behavior differences when looking at wine consumption behavior. Millennials inhabit two significantly different life stages: Younger millennials…

The Booze Bin

Marketing Lessons from the 2016 Boston Wine Expo

This weekend I had the privilege of attending the 25th annual Boston Wine Expo, the largest wine and food expo in New England. Featuring celebrity chefs and seminars from top experts, the two-day Grand Tasting celebrated how wine has evolved over the last 25 years, and also what wine and food trends are emerging in the coming years.  Considered one of the best food and wine expositions in the US, the Boston Wine Expo featured more than 1,800 wines from more than 200 wineries, and was a great place for marketing professionals to assess the current trends in the booze industry. So what’s hot and what’s not? Below I recap my top three most notable trends from this year’s festivities.


bwe logo

Clever Marketing Tactics 

It’s no secret that millennials are the fastest growing segment of wine drinkers in the United States. According to Wine Market Council (WMC), millennials (defined as those aged between 21 and 38) are now the largest wine-drinking demographic in the US, making up 36% of all US wine drinkers. So for me, one of the stand-out booths came from Troublemaker Wines. The brand is clearly


Women and Wine: What does this segmentation really tell us?


I’m skeptical of old-fashioned segmentation: women, age groups, income levels. With so many data streams accessible and the ability to glean extensive information about consumers, we have an opportunity to reassess how we categorize affinity groups. Emerging fields like ethnography and neuroscience add layers of intelligence and new ways of approaching segments that can guide brand managers and marketers. I wrote about this in 2013 following a conference that I co-created to explore marketing themes in the wine industry, The Exchange. One example: analyzing how mothers and daughters shop together, a prevalent occasion in the Latina community, can enhance how beverage alcohol brands market to this group of potential consumers. That segment can’t be explored by broadly looking at women and wine.

Is simply halving the population enough of a segment to shed light on how to go to market? Can we glean any actionable information from this? The short answer is that it depends.

Last week, I attended a Wine Market Council research conference. The Wine Market Council has been tracking annual wine consumer attitudes and behaviors for two…


3 Podcasts To Step Up Your Marketing Game

A whopping 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. I usually cut myself some slack when personal resolutions start to waver, but I have a much harder time letting go of professional goals. One of my 2016 resolves is to listen to one new podcast a week to step up my game as a beverage marketing professional.

I decided to let you in on the resolution and share my January finds. All it takes is 35 minutes of your time. Are you ready?

The EntreLeadership Podcast – Branding Your Story (Episode #103 – listen from minutes 10-16):

Synopsis: Brand guru Donald Miller challenges you to rethink how you are telling your brand’s story. His theory: Companies should not be the hero of the story, but the customer. Brands that understand how they solve the internal problems an external problem creates for consumers (e.g., a broken pipe causes frustration) will excel.

Miller uses political campaigns as an example: G.W. Bush ran on the problem of high taxes (external problem) and “hit a nerve” when he spoke about Americans not being able to send their kids to college because all their money

The Booze Bin

Lessons from the Biggest Brands in the Booze Business – Blue Chip Brands

Savvy marketers know there is plenty to learn from having your finger on the pulse of the market. To keep up with the top performers, marketing professionals rely on industry experts to rank brands by growth. One of my favorite rankings comes from Impact Databank and their annual ranking of “Blue Chip Brands.”

Published each year in Market Watch Magazine, these “Blue Chip Brands” have shown staying power over the last decade, reporting average growth rates of at least 0.5% each year of the past decade, plus reporting a gross margin of at least $25 million in 2014. For this reason, these are important brands to watch and learn from. Rounding up 58 brands across all three categories of wine, beer and spirits, these results act as a barometer of the current booze industry. Let’s see what valuable marketing lessons are hiding in this year’s results:


Spirits – Market Innovation Appeals to Consumers

The three largest Blue Chip spirits brands all come from the portfolio of industry giant Diageo and include Smirnoff vodka, Captain Morgan rum and Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey. Surprised to see Crown Royal

The Booze Bin

From Star Wars to Symphonies … Hot Trends in Brewery Tasting Rooms

Yep, the craft beer craze is in full swing across the country, and new breweries continue to pop up every day … lucky for us beer lovers! But as in any business, brewery owners will need to find fresh ideas to keep patrons coming back again and again. And of course, attract new customers. While certainly the beer itself is always a draw (yum), the happenings in the tasting rooms prove to be effective marketing efforts to bring in crowds. So what’s trending in tasting rooms? What are some cool, hip, innovative ideas you may see in your tasting adventures?

Yoga & Beer

YogaYes, please! Breweries from California to North Carolina are embracing this trend, holding yoga classes right next to their barrels, taps and hops. While yoga studios may be intimidating, breweries offer a laid-back, less formal setting that appeals to everybody (even men are embracing this concept; check out a previous Buzz Bin post about it!) And of course, downward facing dog is followed by a happy hour brew, just a few feet away.  There’s even a company in San Diego, Hoppy Yoga, that specializes in


How to build a top-notch global marketing team


When I went to school for international studies, my professors never talked about how business teams functioned across global markets. It was simply a matter of mastering linguistics. However, the reality is that cultural differences can create business challenges that get in the way of doing great work.

At the request of Felicity Carter, editor-in-chief of Meininger’s Wine Business International, I spoke on a panel called “Speaking Globally: Creating influence and negotiating deals in world markets” at Wine Vision, an annual conference that seeks to set the global agenda for the wine industry. Ms. Carter, very eloquently, spoke about direct versus indirect cultures, the significance of a strong translation partner, and how humor generally doesn’t translate well.

I drew upon my experience in managing multi-national communications campaigns and how the concept of “glocal” – where global strategy meets local execution – has shaped effective marketing campaigns.

A bit of background: The way we approach marketing has changed significantly in the last ten years. Gone are the days of executing one single program across the world in an imperialistic style. The phrase “glocalization,” or, in short, “glocal,” was coined…

The Booze Bin

Wine for Everyone!

Here we are at the end of the year, and 2016 is knocking on our door. Everyone has their mind on the holidays and enjoying festivities with friends & family. But savvy media consumers also know this is the time when everyone and their mother recap the past year and anticipate trends for the coming year. In fact, even this agency’s blog is recapping 2015 across all of our practices, from Food & Beverage to Consumer and Healthcare. But the yearly reviews that excite me the most include, you guessed it, WINE!

As marketing professionals, of course we want to see our products included in yearly recaps. But which ones are the most important, or the most reputable? Let’s take a look at some of the Top 100 Wine Lists from the industry’s biggest influencers and see what it all means:


Unlike some of the more reputable wine publications, doesn’t rank their wines based on the scores of wine critics. Instead, has “compiled top 100 list based entirely on customer preferences… we wanted our customers to be the judge, voting with their wallets.”

The Booze Bin

Big Beer: The 5 Best Launches of 2015

I could claim that 2015 was the year of craft beer, but let’s be honest: this isn’t the first year we’ve seen enormous growth in this market.

Consistently, over the last several years, craft brewers have seen double-digit growth in volume and market share. In fact, every day more than two new craft breweries open their doors.

It’s not surprising then, that this advancement has acted as a launch pad for strong concepts (beyond craft) that consumers are more open to than ever.

Our client Smart Beer is a good indicator of this attitude. Media authorities have offered support for its organic and healthy living brand proposition – something the market has only begun to dabble in. Buzz Bin Image

With this in mind, I’ve compiled what I believe are some of the smartest marketing launches in beer (packaging, storage, production and actual beer) in 2015.

  • Ommegang Game of Thrones Three Eyed Raven Dark Saison Ale – Although not the first of its kind, this partnership continued showcasing a genius method for authentically tapping into a cult following.