The Global Drinks Forum

14 October, 2016

Leaders of the global drinks industry assembled in Berlin on October 10 to discuss the future of the industry. Here is a selection of what was said. 

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William Rowe, founder of Protein, an independent global audience agency with a focus on early adopters.

The idea:

-        Early adopters are the audience brands need to connect with as they’ll influence what the masses will buy next.

The arguments:

-        Early adopters are not all Millennials – they are not defined by their age. They are affluent, tech savvy, open-minded, tastemakers with creative networks. Early adopters are proactive and politicised – they do not sit on the fence and demand the same values from the brands they buy. 86% of those surveyed choose brands because of the values they are associated with. Brands should therefore communicate a clear identifiable standpoint. Be brave enough to surprise an increasingly savvy audience and unify and empower your consumers to break down borders.

-        The stereotyped approach to marketing is antiquated.  In the US 25% of craft beer drinkers and 37% of whisky drinkers are female. Never assume certain genders drink certain drinks. Depict multiple cultures, genders and sexualities in marketing.

-        There is palate burnout. 71% of early adopters feel overwhelmed, according to a Protein survey. There is too much choice of flavours, therefore simplify packaging and provide a much clearer message. Use fewer ingredients and explain why ingredients have been selected. The overload is leading early adopters to classic and sessionable flavours. Classic drinks made with little fuss appeal to the early adopters.

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Dan Gasper, COO, Distill Ventures, a global company that invests in and nurtures start ups.

The idea:

-        The love affair with big brands is over. Consumers are looking for better not bigger and small has become synonymous with better. There is an interest in how things are produced and consumers are drinking less but better. The appetite for the craft beer movement is washing across spirits, with 40% growth from 2011-2015. Founder-led brands are the future.

The arguments:

-        Founder-led brands have an interesting story to share – a personal journey, which is a good reason to exist. They can spark interest by constantly talking about what they are making, how they are making it and why.

-        Founder-led brands can build real communities and become their own platforms, inviting people on the journey with them. They can release products that have been tested by the community. They can resurrect a tradition, push boundaries of flavour and solve a problem.

-        Founder-led brands can make great friends that have more in common than what divides them. Collaborations are a great way to keep creating interest and to celebrate shared values but they have to be brands with synergy of their own.

-        Founder-led brands can experiment with passion. Stories are not all perfect but more magical, with highs, lows and happy accidents.

-        Founder-led brands have the freedom to make messages memorable. They can enjoy the freedom of not being big yet.

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Iván Saldaña Oyarzábal, CEO of Vasa Lumbre Mexico, which works to create “farm-to-bottle” spirit propositions.

The idea:

Consumers are looking for new things that are delicious but also meaningful and authentic.

The arguments:

-        In the past brands had to represent fun, lifestyle and luxury, now they need authenticity.

-        Big companies fail to be innovate because too many people are involved in the process.  

-        Brands need the courage to take risks.

-        Consumers want to be connected to the past through heritage.

-        Authenticity is highly subjective and socially constructed but is generally understood to mean ‘how things ought to be’.

-        To be authentic, it’s important to conquer your domestic market.

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Jonathan Forsyth, global drinks analyst of Mintel, a global market intelligence agency.

The idea: If health is the new religion among Millennials, what does that mean for the future of the alcohol industry?

The arguments:

-        Moderation has become a trend. 45% of 18-34 year olds are in interested in drinks with lower calories. Millennials are less interested in getting drunk – it’s a different world to get drunk in as social media regulates behaviour. Non alcoholic beer no longer seems a crazy idea to Millennial drinkers. Millennials have long-term healthy diets.

-        Selling health functionality in drinks is a hard sell. A brand is overselling if it pushes health benefits of alcohol. Example: The brand Vitamin Vodka says four of its shots is equal to one multi vitamin. Alcohol can’t add health functionality but can talk about natural ingredients.

-       For Millennials, natural is synonymous with a healthy lifestyle. Products free from dairy and gluten are popular. Millennials are influenced by fads far more than facts. Emotional triggers – they want to believe natural means healthy. It’s a powerful social construction.





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