Over the past six years at the agency, I’ve had the opportunity to work across a variety of industries, from consumer and technology to education and healthcare. Most recently I’ve broadened my experience into the spirits industry in the capacity of media relations and event marketing for a vodka and whisky brand.
Personally, I found that event marketing for the wine and spirits industry is way different than typical event marketing.
It requires attention to detail and a specialized skill set. Luckily, here at PadillaCRT we have the expertise to strategically provide our wine and spirits clients with ways to connect with their target consumers. For example, for our client Wines from Rioja, we have the know-how to conduct national press tours, sponsorships, tasting parties and media tours in major markets that build brand awareness and drive sales.
The following are three key wine and spirits event marketing learnings I’ve learned:
1. Understand the Three-Tier System: Have you ever wondered how a lovely bottle of wine from overseas makes it into your hands in America? Well, it starts with the three-tier system which is made up of producers, wholesale distributors and retailers. The three-tier system was created after Prohibition as a way to have beer, wine and alcohol producers not sell to retail and in turn not offer promotional pricing. Since suppliers and wholesalers cannot sell directly to consumers, marketing booze brands requires collaboration between all three tiers of the alcohol distribution system in the U.S. I’m proud to say that PadillaCRT has the capability to lead marketing strategies, despite the obstacles that may be in place from this system. More information about the three-tier system can be found in the infographic below.
2. Learn State Alcohol and Liquor Laws – Especially the Weird Ones: As you may know, there are a lot of laws and restrictions for alcohol and liquor and some are just plain weird. For example, you’d need to know that you shouldn’t plan on executing a happy hour event in Massachusetts because they’re banned. Or if you have an event at a venue it’s important that the venue has a liquor license and they are in compliance. It’s also important to know alcohol rules differ by state. If you are going to work with booze brands, it is vital to know the laws for each state you intend to work in. Connect with your venues and partners to ensure they are in compliance with all state laws.
3. Know How to Legally Ship Alcohol in the U.S.: Great news! You’re having an event in another city and you need to send the booze there. But wait, how are you supposed to get it there? Shipping alcohol carries specific restrictions based on which carrier you use. A few important things to know include having the proper permit to ship alcohol in the first place. One way to get around this is getting a contract with a fulfillment house that has a license to ship, and can provide professional packing, pick-up, delivery and shipment. It’s especially helpful to have this type of service because they have the expertise to ship booze to various states.
This potential obstacle can actually be leveraged into an opportunity. For instance, my colleague Olivia Tornick recommends forming a strategic partnership with a retailer where your brand is sold. “It’s a great way to make your programming count. It’s one thing to drive awareness for your brand, but if consumers don’t have ways to taste or if it’s not easy for them to buy your product – it’s not going to drive sales,” said Tornick.
Ultimately, our end goal as wine and spirits professionals is to provide ROI for our clients by getting their product from retail to the consumer. One of the best ways to do that is through event marketing in major markets and this requires intricate knowledge of wine and spirits laws by state.
Have you learned any other important lessons from wine and spirits event marketing? I’d love to hear them in the comments!