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The mind is much more powerful than any TV commercial or marketing campaign. Brands can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketers and managers, but, ultimately, purchasing decisions are made in the brain, not the boardroom. But what really goes through someone's mind when they hand over a 20 dollar bill to a retailer? Here's the psychology behind consumer decision making in the American beverage space -- a $354.2 billion industry -- and some tactics you can use to improve the results of your alcohol marketing campaign.
Everyone loves free stuff. But giving out freebies at trade shows and other events -- think a refreshing pint of ale or a small glass of red -- boosts sales significantly.
Here's the psychology: customers go through a buying decision process before they make a purchase, where they consider price, availability and other factors. Free samples simplify this process, and they influence customers to make favorable purchasing decisions.
There's loads of research that backs this up:
It seems, then, that free samples have a positive influence on a beverage maker's entire inventory, and the overall effectiveness of your alcohol marketing campaign. "In terms of reaching consumers, free samples are often much more powerful, and much cheaper than traditional advertising," notes Time magazine.
Free beverage samples aren't cheap, especially at a trade show or exhibition with hundreds of parched visitors. But, perhaps not surprisingly, they provide brands with a massive return on their investment. Companies should showcase one or two of their best products at these events in order to tempt new customers.
"People like free stuff," says New York City-based marketing agency Factory 360. "They like free food, free clothing, free drinks, free anything. Giving away product samples at any type of experiential marketing event is the best thing you can do to draw consumers to you."
Just like free samples, beer, wine and spirit tastings serve as a psychological trigger that sends sales into the stratosphere. From wine trails in California's Napa Valley -- 3.5 million wine lovers visited the region in 2016 alone -- to microbrewery tours in the Northeast, consumers have an insatiable thirst for these live experiences.
Psychologically, customers feel more inclined to buy alcohol at a tasting event. Perhaps they appreciate a beverage more after hearing about its ingredients, flavor and origin. Whatever the reason, these events have a massive impact on product sales.
"By giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at your vineyards and cellars, you'll actually build lasting relationships with your customers," says marketing expert Steve Olenski, writing for Forbes. "When they purchase a bottle of wine, they'll feel as though they're buying from a brand they know personally."
Research shows that, after a wine tasting experience, consumers are 93 percent more likely to spend an additional $10 on an extra bottle of wine and 92 percent more likely to repurchase that wine in the future. The study apparently turns satisfied customers into "highly satisfied" customers. "All wineries may not experience the same results, but the study concluded that tastings create brand loyalty and entice guests to return for more," says Restaurant Insider.
Social media is a crucial component of any experiential marketing campaign. Beverage brands use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram -- and all the other social media networks -- to drum up interest in their live events. The act of "liking" posts on social media, in particular, is an interesting concept to researchers.
Psychologically, consumers acknowledge a brand when they like one of their posts, whether it's an event invitation to an in-store promotion or a photo of a new product. There's no exchange of words, but it's an interaction nonetheless.
"'Like' is an example of what I would call, 'virtual empathy,'" says research psychologist Larry D. Rosen Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today. "We are all well aware of what it means to be empathic toward someone: having the ability to understand and share in another's emotional state or context."
While the number of likes a post or page receives won't increase sales, it can increase engagement.
"If the viral power of Facebook has dried up, then work on generating conversation," says Kissmetrics. "Talk to your fans. Use it as a communication portal, rather than a way to build up likes." Posting creative content can also boost engagement and encourage more customers to discover a brand. In the beverages industry, pages with product photos, funny memes and useful information always quench a social media user's thirst.
Consumers are making decisions all the time. From first point-of-contact at a trade show to the final slurp of a free drink, customers weigh up the pros and cons of a product before they part with their cash. Brands should understand the psychology of the customer decision process in order to boost sales and revenue and fine tune their future alcohol marketing campaigns.
The headline and subheader tells us what you're offering, and the form header closes the deal. Over here you can explain why your offer is so great it's worth filling out a form for.