The traditional method for alcohol to reach consumers is through a three-tier distribution model. Alcohol producers including beer, wine, or spirits, generally provide their product to distributors, who then sell the product to retailers. As a result, this tiered distribution system has provided a greater opportunity for top-level brands to experience a vast presence in retail stores.
To level the playing field for all spirits brands – especially small craft distillers – brands have sought a method for their unique products to get into the hands of consumers. U.S. law permits wine and other lower alcohol content products to be sold directly to consumers. In fact, many winemakers participate in subscription wine clubs. Consumers interested in exploring new varietals and regional types of wine can turn to subscription services as an affordable and entertaining option to expand their palette. For example, SommSelect provides a full-on experience to consumers, providing a variety of bottles with food pairing notes, plus a blind tasting test.
In addition to convincing a consumer to purchase a spirit brand online they may have never seen or tasted, the primary challenge for spirits brands is reaching consumers while following distribution regulations. Many states have restrictions in place prohibiting direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping. However, there are business opportunities for brands to partner with retailers which comply with specific regulations to ensure kosher DTC practices.
For example, Creek Water Whiskey is a global brand with fans around the world. The brand has made the product more accessible by partnering with retailers Cask Cartel and Nick & Moe’s Liquors for direct-to-consumer shipping opportunities. These retail partnerships offer the ability for consumers who live in a state with DTC restrictions on spirits, to purchase legally through a retailer such as Cask Cartel.
Creek Water Whiskey has established its brand from grassroots marketing gaining fans who resonate with the brand’s creator, global recording artist Yelawolf. Spirits brands with a passionate audience such as Creek Water’s can connect through digital marketing platforms such as brand email newsletters and social media to promote DTC outlets. This is especially relevant when the brand is not readily available in liquor stores across certain states and regions.
DTC strategies offer brands massive opportunities to engage customers, and leverage modern essential technologies to provide them with convenience and a personalized interaction thus increasing brand loyalty and customer lifetime value.
Image credits: melnyk mariya and Celtic Life International