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The Bing Crosby Effect
Influencer Marketing is a hot social media buzz phrase that can be directly attributed to Bing Crosby.
From the moment the famed crooner, and fellow entertainer and business partner, Phil Harris, imported Herradura, the first 100% agave tequila into the US, celebrity endorsements of alcoholic beverages have influenced American’s buying habits–
And, become an all too common occurrence.
This article traces the history of influencer marketing, from the early days of cinema to a new kind of social media personality, the influencer.
I Wanna be Like Mike
Continuing that tradition, celebs like Diddy (DeLeon), George Clooney (Casamigos), Sammy Hagar (Cabo Wabo, and now, Mezquila), and Justin Timberlake (Sauza 901) are just a few of the A-listers peddling agave spirits.
It can be argued that desire for a megastar endorsed item is fueled by our emotional attachment to the star himself.
Hence, the more we care about a renowned personality, the more we “want to be like Mike.”
Noel Shu is Chief Luxury Officer and Head Sommelier at Prodiguer Brands, Ltd. The “Prince of Luxury,” and the man responsible for the most expensive champagne in the world, (Goût de Diamants) explains here why celebrity affiliation works for luxury items.
“No matter what, the rest of the world is keeping tabs on the rich and famous. In order to be more like them, many go out of their way to get what celebrities have,” asserts Shu.
“Beneath the pretense of glam, money and prestige, a purchase boils down to one thing: familiarity. It is mental association at work.”
Shu determines, “When a person is constantly reminded that their favorite actor is wearing or using a product, they begin gravitating towards the item themselves.”
The danger in promoting celebrity covetousness in agave spirits brand marketing is that it’s shallow, superficial, and unmemorable.
The emotional bond between your label and your customer, like a sample from a tequila girl in a black mini-skirt, is fleeting, at best.
Intimacy Can be Measured
On the flip side, a very enlightening website reveals a brand’s intimacy quotient.
MBLM states that “brand intimacy is a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.”
Before I get to how this new level of marketing relates to agave spirits branding, let me point out a couple of Tequila Market growth facts, courtesy of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).
Who Cares About Luxury?
According to DISCUS, the fastest growth in 2016 has been in High End and Super Premium brands.
Virtually a non-existent segment before 2002, volumes of Super Premium tequilas have zoomed 706% to 2.9 million cases.
Intimacy by the Numbers
Taking a look at the Beverages category as a whole on the MBLM site, we discover that its intimacy quotient falls almost 4 points below the cross industry average.
Most notably, though, the Luxury division practically brings up the rear, a full 13 points below the industry median!
Of the last two tequila marks, only Jose Cuervo is still Mexican owned.
Power to the People
“Brands are in the hands of consumers today,” says MBLM.
A true statement since, chances are, you’re reading this on your preferred handheld device.
MBLM goes on to preach,”…people trust one another more than they trust a corporation.”
We’ve heard it said that word-of-mouth—especially in social media–is everything. (Just ask United Airlines!)
MBLM continues, “…brands are proliferating, saturating our attention, increasing confusion, and often cannibalizing each other.”
That’s certainly an honest view of the spirits industry.
A simple walk through your neighborhood liquor store’s tequila aisle will more than convince any skeptic of that assessment.
Given the above information on this new form of “emotional marketing,” it raises the question—
What’s the point of describing your agave spirit as a “luxury” or “lifestyle” brand?
With the trend toward attracting Millennials, and their demand for quality, transparency and affordability in the wines and spirits they seek, the growth of the High End and Super Premium segments seem destined to falter.
Celebrity worship and their endorsement of products, however, will continue to be a part of the daily fabric of every social media platform.
As Shu points out in the above article, “No matter how much fanfare or glitz a product gets from being in the limelight, it’s the opinion of experts and influencers on the product itself that keeps it there.”
Luxury items are only attractive when in use by someone we care about or admire, famous or not.
How can start up agave spirits entrepreneurs create lasting emotional bonds between their products and their customers?
By telling their brand stories clearly, consistently, and emotionally in a creative and engaging manner across all mediums.
In addition, instead of trying to interest megastars to front your tequila or mezcal, decide to become your own best Agave Ambassador.
The new breed of agave spirits brand owners must not be afraid to stand in front of their own juice to preach their message to the masses.
The Founding Fathers of the Tequila Industry knew the value of forging personal relationships with not just their business associates, but with everyone.
In the tradition of old skool tequileros, luminaries like Guillermo Erickson Sauza, Carlos Camarena, German Gonzalez, David Suro, Sophie Decobecq, Ken Austin, Dr. Adolfo Murillo, Tomas Estes and many others, have not only produced some of the most beloved tequilas, but have fearlessly chosen to be their own qualified spokespersons.
There’s No Crying in Tequila!
Agave spirits inherently embody the passion and history of Mexico. If luxury items are cold and unfeeling, then, agave spirits are the complete opposite.
An agave spirit without a representative, however, is like a band without a front man; like a basketball team without a point guard; like a country without a leader.
No amount of marketing spin can improve a label’s lifeless approval rating, or a vote of no-confidence from customers.
Tequila: Con Ganas!
“Advancements in neuroscience reveal that virtually all decision making is emotional,” declares MBLM. “Behavioral science demonstrates that the way we feel about a brand is the single best predictor of purchase.”
MBLM concludes, “up to 90% of the decisions we make are based on emotion.”
So, if you decide to be the ultimate emotional mouthpiece for your agave spirit, the bottom line is…
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