We explore how craft gin brands are using digital to stand-out in this highly competitive and thriving sector.
Jamie Robinson Creative Director
Aug 08, 2019
This is the first in our series of blog posts that looks at how different sectors are taking charge of digital to lead business success. We look at how different brands perform online and also consider what challenges and opportunities the future may hold.
Craft Gin has brought better-tasting spirits to discerning drinkers - and big business to the UK. According to data from Kantar's Worldpanel division, gin is officially the nation's favourite spirit (having overtaken whisky).
Craft Gin’s surge in popularity has lead to the creation of some exciting craft brands with the production of gin continuing to grow. This is despite the growing trend of NOLO (No/ low alcohol) which has seen a huge demand for these types of products.
This trend has opened the market to new products such as Seedlip. A distillery which produces alcohol-free spirits. Despite containing no alcohol this brand has taken advantage of the trends appearing in the craft gin market. They have created a premium brand that incorporates the craft element which appeals to the low-alcohol culture among younger drinkers.
Made at Bruichladdich Distillery (a website which deserves its own mention), The Botanist’s website looks as good as the bottle it comes in. The typography design from the beautifully embossed bottle spills over onto the website. The essence of the remote Hebridean island is captured through the immersive homepage video of the shoreline.
Documenting the process
Like most craft gin brands The Botanist content focuses on telling the story of the product. Lifestyle branding takes a back seat as the ingredients are really the selling point here. Broadly speaking, mass-produced products focus on selling the lifestyle associated with the drink. However, The Botanist lets the product speak for itself throughout the website. For example, a visual depiction of the non-tangible concept of “Tasting Notes” shows the complexity of the gin’s flavour in an interactive way.
This style of documenting appeals to different consumer mindsets. For example, those who want a premium gin may be fulfilling a desire to discover new products and enjoy something that feels personal to them. Another example of a brand that breaks down the ingredients and tasting notes of the gin is Gin Mare.
Product page UX
“42% of users will try to grasp the size of a product through the product page images”
Determining the size of a product is crucial to the online shopping experience, as users can’t physically evaluate the size of a product as they can in a brick and mortar store. Testing by the Baymard Institute revealed that 42% of users will try to grasp the size of a product through the product page images. The Botanist site sells only one product that comes in a range of sizes, so they’ve used a clever visual way to view all the products at a glance and compare them by scale.
The aim of experiential marketing is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience. The Botanist website makes it super easy for users to find upcoming events with pages detailing time, location and directions.
One example of The Botanist embracing experiential marketing was the Winter Garden pop-up, complete with a floral ice-walled bar. Not only was it amazing to look at, but guests (key influencers) were invited along to immerse themselves in an experience whilst interacting with a product. It’s something that the drinks industry can do increasingly effectively these days, and inviting influencers along means a good few ripples throughout social media.
Experiential marketing in the drinks industry can prove to be very effective. Inviting influencers means a good few ripples throughout social media. BusinessLIVE reported that in the 18- to 35-year-old segment, influencer marketing is still effective. Kuhle Belu, consumer insights manager at Pernod Ricard, the company behind brands such as Jameson, Absolut and Chivas Regal, said that the company makes use of macro-and micro-influencers, and both are very effective in the right context.
Established in 2009 Sipsmith really instigated the growth in craft gin with a sense of place, proudly embracing it’s London heritage. Paving the way for a plethora of both craft gin brands and mainstream brands. Embracing the sense of place is rather fitting as gin is a quintessentially British drink, which reached the height of popularity in the 16th century. By 1743, England was consuming 10 litres of gin per person annually. We don’t think the gin-naissance hasn’t quite reached this level.
Becoming more than a ‘benchmark brand’
In an interview with Marketing Week, Sipsmith’s global marketing director Kate Moorcroft has stated that 2019 is the year Sipsmith is ‘supercharging’ from a benchmark brand to a leader in its own right. So far it’s released a new flavour, launched its first TV campaign and released a new canned gin product. However, Sipsmith will still rely on its tried and tested methods of PR, social and loyalty offerings.
Building a lasting connection is at the core of many craft gin brands and Sipsmith is no different. Events and tours are promoted on their social channels and can be booked through the website. Customers can even join the ‘Sipping Society’, a yearly membership that includes two bespoke gins a month and costs £180 a year. This subscription service is great for fans of the brand and it encourages brand loyalty.
The subscription box market is booming, according to a report by the Royal Mail, which estimates that one in four of us are signed up to receive a regular hit of food, flowers, booze or something else. The report continues that the sector is growing at such a rate that it will be worth an estimated £1bn in 2022.
One way to keep subs sweet is to constantly freshen up the offering, says John Burke of Craft Gin Club. "We work directly with distillers to deliver exclusive and limited edition drinks," says the co-founder, who also puts on subscriber-only giveaways and competitions. "You've got to reward people for staying in the club."
This high impact website is beautifully designed and immerses the user into the world of Whitetail gin. As the user scrolls through the site they are taken on the journey of the creation of the gin, from inspiration to the community/ fan base around Whitetail.
The Whitetail Gin website demonstrates how to beautifully create a website following the broken layout trend. The Whitetail website has a sophisticated and high quality feel to it. The ecommerce experience is elegantly blended into an experience focused on the transactional funnel.
Increasing brand awareness
Established in 2017, Whitetail is still very much in its infancy and is a good example of how brands begin to establish themselves. Offline Whitetail is now being at stocked The CoOp, which is its first listing with a national retailer. Co-Director Jamie Munro hopes that this development will “increase our brand awareness and reach.”
“86% of consumers said authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. This has become more prevalent in web design as customers seek reassurance that the brand is authentic.”
In a recent study: “86% of consumers said authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support”. This has become more prevalent in web design as customers seek reassurance that the brand is authentic. Whitetail gin perfectly incorporates their voice, message and personality into the website’s design and content.
A fast-growing brand, Napue Gin, brewed by the Finnish Kyro Distillery Company, has grown from producing 500 bottles a month before 2015 to more than 600,000 bottles a month in 2017, representing a huge 1200% increase in less than three years. Part of this surge in popularity is thanks to Kyrö’s Distillery collaborations with different influencers that represent the different passion points that align with Kyrö’s brand values, from design lovers to spirit experts.
According to Beverage Daily craft gin brands still, rely on the original spirit influencers - bartenders. A perfect example of this being translated to a digital platform is this great bit of content created for Napue Gin on Instagram by influencer @theamateurmixologist.
The perfect mix of expertise and experience
Want to kick-start your craft gin’s digital marketing strategy or refresh your brand's website? Let's work together.
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