There is an eternal debate among drink brand owners: Should I base my drinks strategy on neat or cocktails? Despite being a very interesting debate in meeting rooms across the globe, I noticed that 99% of brands procrastinate on that decision trying to appeal to the masses.
There's usually an issue with a democratic approach in meeting rooms: no decision is taken. Consensus in the echo chamber makes us pretend we have decided while pleasing everyone. Hence we go for a drinks strategy that's great for cocktails, awesome consumed on its own but also great on the rocks. Ritual and garnish? We don't want to offend anyone, so feel free to invent your own.
The result is a bottle that sits on a back bar without anyone knowing what to do with it. Too many options = none
We tend to think that success comes from being seen and sold in the best bars in the world. It is about building a clear connection to one occasion in bartenders' and consumers' minds.
The most successful brands out there have not built their fame on being sold in a handful of cool bars (despite most of us thinking that).
They have built their image single-mindedly about one main drinking occasion.
- Aperol with a Spritz (you hardly see it consumed in any other way)
- Campari with Negroni (even when nobody was drinking them anymore)
- Hendrick's with the cucumber in gin & tonic (a revolution vs. lemon/lime)
In theory, most brands could be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails. But it's crucially important to have a crystal clear view of what your core drinking occasion should be.
Imagine gin brands. They are usually communicating the gin & tonic occasion. Of course, you can have it in a Collins, in a Martini, Negroni, etc., but you should be able to explain it in a clear way to sales teams and bartenders. As the drink's look is pretty basic, the ones that managed to stand out are those that challenged conventional serves. They removed lemons and limes and added cucumber (Hendrick's) or rosemary (Gin Mare).