Experiential marketing is a powerful tool for beverage companies. You have a product that appeals to multiple senses, which means consumers love to sample it. Humans consume water, soda, sports drinks, beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee and other beverages at every meal and throughout the day. Plain ol’ water is pretty far down on the list of what Americans are drinking, which means consumers are always looking for new and interesting beverages.

Now that we’ve told you why the glass is half full, here’s the reason the glass is half empty. Almost every beverage company engages in experiential marketing at some point. It’s likely your competitors are showcasing their products in the same places you’re planning to: grocery stores, bars, county fairs, music festivals, major sporting events, even trade shows and other B2B events. That means there’s stiff competition when it comes to grabbing and holding the attention of consumers.

To be successful with experiential marketing, you need to do something that makes your brand really stand out. Here are some things you should consider when planning your next campaign.

Know your market

There are four critical things you must consider at the start of every experiential marketing campaign: audience, goals, outcomes and analytics. We’re going to focus on that first one for now because it’s particularly important for beverage companies.

Before you get down to the nitty-gritty of buying tasting cups and renting tents, ask yourself who your audience is. Do middle-aged women go nuts for your sodas? Are recent immigrants looking for a taste of home flocking to your juices? Do you have a locally-brewed, organic spirit brand that’s popular with high-end consumers?

You should also think about who you want to target. Is your beverage company set on hooking men on the sweetened coffee drinks that have been so popular with women? Do you offer an affordable alternative to expensive microbrews that would be perfect for consumers in their early 20s? Are young moms the next health-conscious groups you want to tempt with your vitamin water?

Learn everything you can about your demographic groups. Find out what interests them, what they value, what they like to do, and what they expect from companies and products. Gather as much data and advice as you can, then use that to start thinking about an experiential marketing campaign they can’t resist.

Because you’re in such a competitive marketplace, your experiential marketing event needs to be extremely targeted to the group you’re trying to reach. Otherwise it will be easy for them to pass you over and go to the beverage company a few booths down from you.

Make your experiential marketing event very fun/educational/inspiring

When you start reading case studies about experiential marketing for beverage companies, it seems like they all have one thing in common: they’re very fun. There’s a good reason for that. You want consumers to develop a positive association with your brand as a result of your event, and showing them a great time is a way to do that.

In addition, many people associate beverages with fun events. They drink wine, beer and spirits at parties and celebrations. They drink coffee or tea when they’re sharing time with friends – or to recover from the previous night’s fun.

But your experiential marketing activation can also trigger other positive emotions for consumers. Given our current foodie culture, there are plenty of opportunities to capture consumers’ attention by hosting events that pair your beverages with delicious foods. Given our current health culture, the right beverage companies may be able to use their activations to show consumers that the brand cares about people’s bodies and minds (in addition to their money). People are also interested in learning more about things they care about, so you can make your experiential marketing event an educational event.

Factory 360 recently planned and executed an experiential marketing campaign for Not Your Father’s Root Beer that managed to be fun and educational at the same time. Our brand ambassadors visited bars in 14 different markets to interact directly with consumers. They handed out samples of this specialty ale (which is brewed with ingredients typically found in root beer, such as sarsaparilla and vanilla, to give it a unique taste) and educated bartenders and consumers about why the product is different from anything else on the market.

The brand ambassadors introduced an element of fun into each activation. They played games with consumers and gave out prizes such as branded beer mugs and bottle openers. The goal was to create a relaxed environment where consumers could both learn about something that interested them and have a good time with their friends. The activation was a big success; it resulted in over one million social media impression, onsite sales of the beverage increased during each activation.

Hand out samples, but do it in a fun way

Sampling is a natural and widely utilized experiential marketing technique for beverage and food companies. Who can pass up the chance to try a new juice, soda or spirit while they’re shopping, partying or attending a special event?

If you have a really great product, the taste may stand on its own. But why not doing something fun and creative with your product? Can you allow consumers to sample spirits in Jello shots or hollowed-out oranges? Can you put your iced mocha beverage in a cup made of chocolate, or serve it with ice cubes that have chocolate chips frozen inside them? Can you create a spa atmosphere for consumers sampling health drinks?

Don’t forget that the sampling cups you use offer another opportunity to engage with consumers. If your beverage is opaque, can you put symbols or words in the bottom of the cup that indicate people have won a prize? Can you put your hashtag on the cups to jog consumers’ memories and encourage them to use it? If you’re doing some kind of exclusive event, can you create a really nice glass or mug that people will want to take home with them – and that can serve as an ongoing reminder of your brand?

If your beverage company is looking for new and creative ideas for experiential marketing campaigns, Factory 360 would love to help. We’ve worked with several spirit companies and beverage-makers in the past, so we have expertise about the industry. We can help you with every aspect of your experiential marketing campaign, from planning to pouring. Contact us today to learn more about how we can take your brand’s experiential marketing campaigns to new heights.

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