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Alcohol Marketing Trends You Need to Know Right Now

How much do you think online alcohol sales increased during the pandemic? 

According to the JAMA Network, during the week ending March 21, 2020 in the US they increased by 262% year over year. And Socialbakers data shows that ad spend in the alcohol industry grew at an above-average pace throughout the year.

Needless to say, alcohol brands pivoted their marketing efforts to reflect the consumer reality of current restrictions. So, let’s toast to the new normal and take a closer look at the trends. 

National Happy Hour   

When it comes to social media, the alcohol industry knows what they're doing. Despite strict advertising rules and age restrictions, they’ve managed to create engaging content, adopt new formats, create alluring alcohol marketing campaigns, and engage with their audiences. However, there’s still room for improvement. Read on to learn how alcohol brands are spending on social media and discover possible solutions to cut costs.

Alcohol brands need to carefully construct a social media strategy that is creative, engaging, yet also lawful due to the age restrictions and laws that vary across countries. This is why alcohol brands need to place extreme emphasis on knowing who their audiences are, what they like to do, and which content they like to consume. Getting a detailed look into their audience personas will allow them to easily overcome the barriers of advertising restrictions. In turn, leveraging the vast amount of audience data available will enable alcohol brands to target more efficiently than ever before, perfecting their top-of-the-funnel marketing.

Advertising on Facebook comes at a cost for Alcohol marketing

When it comes to Facebook advertising, alcohol brands are among the top three industries that have the highest CPC at around $0.20. With the growing advertising cost on the platform, alcohol brands must experiment with new advertising formats, content ideation, and targeting that can make their budget go even further.

Alcohol Marketing and Ad Distribution on Facebook

When it comes to ad placements, the alcohol industry has a clear favorite. Using data from Socialbakers (now Emplifi), we found that over 80% of alcohol marketing campaigns on Facebook were placed on the News Feed.

Due to extreme competition and revamp of the News Feed to prioritize content from friends and family over advertisers, the costs of Facebook advertising jumped more than 122% between 2017-2018. 

In 2019-2020, the costs of Facebook Ads appeared to rise less if you only look at CPC. However, if you look at the cost per action (or cost per acquisition) they have both risen dramatically. The CPA almost doubled in this period with a 76% increase. 

With a variety of different ad placements, all advertisers can experiment to reach their audiences in unique ways while simultaneously bringing down costs.

Alcohol brands and Instagram advertising

When it comes to Instagram, nearly 60% of alcohol marketing ad campaigns are displayed on the News Feed. However, while less than 10% of alcohol campaigns are placed on Facebook Stories, 40% were posted to Instagram Stories.

Of course, Instagram has fewer ad placement options, which can partially account for such a huge difference. But it also sheds light on how popular Instagram Stories have become over the past year. 

The most popular Instagram Stories from alcohol brands have a strong and simple theme, making them irresistible to followers. Jameson is a great example of this, and its consistent approach to social media content helps to support its colossal 73% market share of the US Irish Whiskey market. They often use a simple gag that makes you curious, just so you can discover what the punchline is.  

Even more interesting is that advertising via Instagram Stories is actually cheaper for alcohol brands. In fact, when it comes to CPC, Instagram Ads placed in Stories are marginally cheaper than ads placed on the feed. It may only be a small margin, but with hundreds of ad campaigns running costs can easily add up quickly.

With over 500 million daily active users, Instagram Stories should be utilized more as an opportunity for advertising. There are plenty of great alcohol marketing examples and some of the most renowned alcohol brands are already using Instagram Stories to their full potential.

Best Instagram Stories from Alcohol brands

1. Jameson Irish Whiskey

‘Be careful. Very sippy out there’ – Jameson isn’t shy of the odd pun in their Instagram Stories, and they welcome their followers to participate. From cocktail recipes to seasonal promotions like Movember, they keep their audience engaged by creating an active community atmosphere all year round. 

2. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey 

Jack Daniels always includes their audience in any branding, content, or joke. Whether it’s a short quip about keeping things neat, or resolutions and whiskey, the brand knows its humor and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. 

Their prolific Instagram posting is a perfect example of how to keep your brand in people’s minds, every day, 24/7. 

3. Bud Light

Bud Light’s Instagram stickers create the perfect partnership between topics that are native to their fans and their own classic, collectible, branding. This both enhances a user’s library of everyday GIFs and graphics – beyond the 24-hour Story lifecycle – while allowing the brand to promote itself within its audience’s own messaging. 

Alcohol brands and influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is undoubtedly a lucrative strategy for alcohol brands. However, unlike other industries, alcohol brands again face the challenge of overcoming advertising obstacles when it comes to social media.

Because of this, it’s extremely vital for alcohol brands to thoroughly vet any influencers they collaborate with. Some of the things that should be taken into account are investigating which brands influencers have worked with in the past (are they age-appropriate), the age of the influencer themselves, how relevant their interests are, and more.

Luckily there are social media tools available that can make this process painless. Socialbakers’ AI can help you to identify the right influencers for your audience, and match recommendations with your different audience personas. Each influencer is also given a score that reflects how effective their performance will be.

But keep in mind, selecting influencers is just half of the battle. When it comes to alcohol marketing, it’s absolutely vital to brief influencers you work with on content limitations. While this has become second nature for alcohol brand’s marketing teams, it’s likely completely new for influencers unless they’ve worked with age-restricted products in the past.

Alcohol brands are overcoming the challenges of having to cater to a mature audience. It’s safe to say that influencer marketing has been an effective way to get messages across to the right audiences when done in a legal and tasteful way.

This top 10 list shows exactly which alcohol brands are utilizing influencers the most. From this list, we can see that Cîroc Ultra-Premium Vodka is number one with the highest number of influencers that mention their brand. This might surprise you at first, considering Cîroc is originally a luxury French brand, but their body of influencers include some of the most elite artists, models, and athletes in the world.  

It’s important to note that even though world-leading alcohol brands may have the biggest marketing budget, their influencer selection model is scalable for brands of any size. Here are the fundamentals:

  1. Audience fit – Use data insights to find out who an influencer’s audience currently is, and if it fits yours.

  2. Brand fit – Find out more about their demographic performance history to see if their current branding will complement yours. 

  3. Content fit – Look into the overall voice, tone, and feel of their media to see if their content history fits with your campaign ideals. 

Of course, this can take hours of market research. Try Emplifi's end-to-end influencer marketing platform to find the most effective influencers for your brand automatically. 

The takeaway

The alcohol industry faces many challenges when it comes to marketing – high advertising costs being one of them. Luckily, there are many different avenues alcohol brands can use to reach their audiences while keeping costs low.

While the News Feed is the most sought-after place to advertise there are so many other types of placements that are cheaper and possibly even more effective. As we move further into 2021, alcohol brands should leverage the power of Stories across platforms, learning from top-performing leaders in their industry.

The emergence of influencer marketing has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for alcohol marketing. Through careful vetting and coaching, alcohol brands reach age-appropriate audiences in an impactful way.

Some of the most successful alcohol brands are already leveraging influencers to create compelling content that reaches new audiences. With new AI technology, alcohol brands can rest easy knowing that the right influencer is just a click away.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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