Every market research company has a target demographic it’s aiming to learn more about. At The Affluence Collaborative, it’s all in the name. The company is dedicated to helping marketers target affluent consumers across every category, including those within the foodservice sector. But while one can judge a car by concrete mechanical standards, what consumers look for in a beverage is a little more obscure. So this month we caught up with Andrew Sacks, President of The Affluence Collaborative, for some Q and A on the beverage industry and where it – and your brand – fits in with the affluent lifestyle.
FOOD and DRINK DIGITAL: Younger affluent demographics reportedly have a strong attraction to unique one-of-a-kind items. How would a beverage company capitalize on that?
ANDREW SACKS: I think that’s something that is true not only of the younger affluent, but of all affluence. One phrase that we’ve coined to define the affluent market is “separatists.” In everything and every part of their life they’re looking for a different experience. Service brands – hotels and automotive brands with customized products – can obviously do that much more easily than product brands. So it’s a good question: how can spirits brands capitalize on that?
Ultimately the question is: how can you personalize on a mass basis? The answer we keep coming back to is that it’s really hard to mass personalize in any meaningful way – at least in a way that’s going to be meaningful enough to the affluent consumer. So the question becomes: is there enough margin in any one product to personalize to that degree?
There are some simple ways to do it. On every Blanton’s label are a couple of blank spaces to be filled in by hand, to tell you from what barrel the bottle was poured and on what date it was poured. Ultimately all personalizing, if it’s well done, requires some handwork or some personal attention. That’s a real commitment – if somebody’s selling one or two million cases, how they start to think of that is challenging. One other way to do it is for brands to come out with a very limited edition flagship product that might only be a thousand pieces, and that is marked up like a [Hennessy] Louis XIII. At $1,800 a bottle, you can afford to customize.
Then I think there are ways to do it through different types of packaging for different seasons. Veuve Clicquot is a brand who has created a one-of-a-kind feel through doing things in series – a Pucci box one year, or a neoprene case another year. There’s always that thing to look for.
FDD: In your studies you touch upon the loss of something called the “concept of capture” in younger consumers. Do you have any insight on how that can affect brands and how they can overcome it?
AS: I don’t think that brands are going to lose volume by not dealing with it, but I think it’s a huge opportunity for a brand to take note of it and capitalize on it – and of all the categories that I can think of, spirits is one where “capture” – the idea of “meaningful time” – is pretty well capitalized on. You can see all the spirits ads that show groups of friends having a great time together – that is capture. Capture is really helping people to appreciate the things that they have in their lives. I think spirits goes there pretty naturally. Certainly nobody in spirits wants to show somebody drinking alone!
Honestly, I think the concept of capture is best spoken about directly. We all have these great experiences in our lives. What are we doing to have the most gratitude for those experiences and deposit those in the life experience bank?
In terms of what spirits companies could do, it’s really figuring out ways to help celebrate things. There’s a great tradition at the 21 Club in New York where many prominent New York families, upon the birth of a child, will put away a special bottle of cognac or champagne. Then they would go celebrate their twenty-first birthday at 21 Club with that bottle that they had put away twenty-one years ago. It’s ways of turning things into occasions, ways of reinforcing the specialness of occasions and the gratitude.
There are a lot of social media opportunities with capture. There are great promotional opportunities to ask people to share their important moments that a brand is associated with, and by taking the time to write something, people are putting those memories in their bank. If a brand can be successful in getting a client to share an experience they had, then that brand grabs onto an important moment in their life and becomes a kind of mnemonic for those times.
Tune in next month when we conclude our chat with Andrew Sacks, exploring how to avoid the dreaded “passé” label and which brands are doing things right.