Pushpanjali Banerji
Guest Article

Decoding the millennial and beyond influence in shaping the alco-bev marketing trends in 2022

Catering to the new global citizens would be impossible without understanding them and relating to their needs, on much more than just the product offering level, says our guest author.

Marketing alcoholic beverage (alco-bev) is a creative process. Brands need to adhere to Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines, along with the law of the land. We have seen a steady rise in innovative marketing efforts, especially over the past decade.

With the rise in social and digital media platforms, and the increased popularity of several international brands in the Indian markets, the narrative now is truly being shaped by the rise of a new consumer.

Gen Z is the generation born between 1995 and 2015, and currently, at 1.8 billion, they represent a quarter of the global population. Approximately 375 million people in India belong to Gen Z, accounting for 27 per cent of the total population.

Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994), on the other hand, account for 24 per cent of the country’s total population and together, they are shaping the consumer narrative trends for brand engagement across sectors.

With clearly demarcated spending characteristics that are more focused on discovering new experiences and seeking unique and innovative avenues, this new age consumer has only just begun to flex its spending power. And the alco-bev sector has emerged to be one of the top favourites!

As per the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), the Indian alco-bev market is estimated to value approximately Rs 3.9 trillion, proving to be the third-largest, after China and Russia, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8 per cent by 2023. As the number of Gen Z, with legal drinking age, increases, their choices and preferences will shape the market, brand experience and product design to transform the otherwise conservative alco-bev marketing practices.

With creative storytelling at its core, the new era of alco-bev marketing is driving brand experiences basis the following key narratives that can help brands connect with the new Gen Z consumer:

Creative content: In the age of information overload and saturated brand exposure, content has emerged as an undoubted differentiator for brands. When it comes to alco-bev marketing, content becomes even more relevant and significant, given the stringent guidelines one must adhere to as a marketer. This is where innovative storytelling can help build a strong and engaging content-driven campaign.

The key would be to build a strategic narrative that is designed by funneling the core messaging points, aligning it to the brand philosophy, and adapting it to create a memorable and digitally ‘virulent’ story. The beauty about this is that apart from building brand visibility, it also manages to draw in new consumers, strengthen the brand positioning and inspire a sense of brand ownership.

Jägermeister is a herbal liqueur brand. Its Save the Night campaign is a great example of this. Through its Meister Drop Ins, it provided lockdown entertainment and encouraged interaction by requesting fans to share images with others. It also promoted Virtual Happy Hours and shared DIY cocktail recipes with consumers.

Maker’s Mark’s #GiantLittleVictories urged consumers to stay at home and share their small victories. It also provided support to restaurant staff through a relief program.

Packaging: The experiment-driven millennials and Gen Z are always trying out new flavours and tastes, and care a great deal about the packaging. They are more conscious about the brands they choose to associate with and consume. Investing in packaging, as per the prevalent consumption trends, can be the make or break for alco-bev brands.

The packaging should be created after considering the human aspects, namely emotional, behavioural and psychological, to make the brand more appealing for the consumer. The aesthetics of packaging (colours, freshness, texture, etc.) can significantly improve the reaction time of a consumer’s response to a brand.

Bootz Dark Jamaica Rum faced the challenge of crafting an exclusive and premium rum identity and packaging design to reflect the Jamaican heritage. With stippled illustrations, letterpress-inspired typography and whimsical copy and cream and black combination with gold foil accents, a unique, vintage and premium aesthetic appeal was created.

Social responsibility: New age consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z, are more informed and aware about the brands they endorse today, than ever before. Based on a recent study on the emerging consumer trends, a whopping 74 per cent of respondents said they would choose one brand over the other, based solely on the social impact created by the brand.

And, the marketing campaigns need to tell these stories! From a campaign to spread awareness about responsible drinking and discouraging drunk driving to narratives about charity initiatives, sustainability efforts, etc., help showcase a responsible and human side of the brand, which can be a winning differentiator.

Screamin Reels by SaltWater Brewery created an innovative sick-pack ring that is entirely edible and biodegradable, keeping in mind the marine life. The rings are made up of barley, malt and wheat and are by-products of the brewing process.

Inclusive approach to messaging: As the world, driven by the Gen Z, is increasingly moving towards gender neutral and non-binary identities, an extremely open, inclusive and respectful approach towards consumer engagement is the need for any brand that looks to thrive and cater to the new breed of world citizens. Gone are the days when an alco-bev brand could showcase an alpha male with his whisky or a classy woman of society with her wine, to drive brand aspirations.

Now, brands need to focus on dropping the gender biases and promoting inclusivity, equality, diversity, especially if they are looking to remain relevant to a futuristic audience. It is, thus, important for brands today to connect with the new consumer through these positive narratives in order to build affinity and loyalty.

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is a brand that represents equality, diversity and inclusion that reflects in its commercials, workforce and community programs such as C.H.E.E.R.S., EVERFI, among others.

Premium and authentic brand experience: If there is one thing the new consumer is passionate about, it is new experiences! The millennial and Gen Z consumer base is driven today to select superior brand experiences, and are more than willing to pay the premium for it.

Additionally, with a social media-driven peer environment, the new consumer is looking to be the ‘first’ to experience unique or premium brand experiences so as to climb higher up the social acceptance among peers.

And, the rising demand for high-end, limited edition alco-bev products is a testimony to this new trend. Thus, as a brand, it is vital to create and offer unique and selective experience to increase consumer engagement through campaigns that relate to their social aspirations and also have a genuine voice and brand stand.

The Macallan Experiences, comprising fishing, journey with Bentley motors, and special experiences on distillery, estate and in Elchies Brasserie, is an excellent example of capturing and retaining consumer base through experiential marketing.

While the above points and examples offer a sneak peek into the consumer psyche, it needs to be understood that at the core of all brand communication, there needs to be a creative approach to engage, impact and connect with the consumer at every possible brand touchpoint, so as to create a superior brand experience. Gone are the days when standard promotions and grand, but meaningless advertising gestures would be enough to capture the attention of consumers.

Today’s audience is not only one with a short attention span, but also one that is well informed, socially aware, environmentally conscious and spoiled for choice! Catering to this new global citizen would be impossible without understanding them and relating to their needs, on much more than just the product offering level!

The author is brand director, Kyndal Group.

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