From bourbon to craft beer, the spirits category is increasingly competitive and cluttered, prompting brands to rely more heavily on live experiences to differentiate their value proposition. But handing consumers a free drink and calling it a day is no longer an effective strategy in today’s oversaturated market. Instead, many companies are designing multisensory activations that educate and immerse attendees in their brand ethos. Check out these leading multisensory spirits sampling strategies from a handful of today’s savviest spirits brands.
Budweiser Beer Garage
Bud wants to showcase its technology chops to the digitally savvy attendees of South by Southwest, but, a simple virtual reality activation isn’t going to be enough to keep festival goers engaged at the interactive event. The solution? A 4D VR experience that simultaneously highlights the brand’s values, brewing process and tech savviness. The activation takes participants on a 360° VR journey through Budweiser’s storied St. Louis brewery where they catch a whiff of fresh hops, sense the Beachwood chips under their feet, experience temperature changes, and feel a gentle outdoor breeze. And of course, a cold brew caps off the experience!
Monkey 47 Winter Terrace
Alcohol brands see a significant boost in sales around the holidays, so to keep its spirit top of mind, upscale gin brand Monkey 47 creates a posh winter pop-up inside a log cabin at London’s Rosewood Hotel. The brand goes all-in with a design of a cozy winter getaway that encourages consumers to snuggle up and stay a while. Décor includes flaming torches, antlers, glittering candelabras, sheepskin rugs, soft-to-the-touch flock wallpaper and the most popular element—heated seats.
Keeping with the winter theme for their spirits sampling, Monkey 47 offers warm craft cocktails like Oma’s Secret served in a crystal teapot, or the Black Forest Gateau served with double cream and egg white. Decadent comfort foods like truffle fries are also on the menu. A hot strategy for the chilly holiday season.
Mike’s Hard Lemonade Pop-up
On the other side of the seasonal spectrum, Mike’s Hard Lemonade compiles some of the most beloved aspects of summer and transforms them into the multisensory Bright Side Pop-up experience in Los Angeles. The Insta-worthy event carries a vibrant yellow motif throughout, including ice-cold bottles of Mike’s Hard, lemon-themed décor, yellow food items infused with the alcohol, and a giant ball pit. There’s also a cotton candy forest, a chance to play with puppies (c’mon!), an infinity room, a branded version of “Carpool Karaoke” and a comedy show put on by Netflix’s Brent Morin. Ball pits, puppies and boozy lemonade? Doesn’t get much brighter than that.
The Glenlivet Dram Room
To shift the perception of Scotch as a spirit reserved for older men, The Glenlivet introduces the Dram Room. The multisensory experience targets food and wine festivals and is designed to show consumers that the spirit is enjoyed by palates of all types. The spirits sampling activation includes engagements like the Aroma Station which offers attendees a unique way to detect the flavor profile of each of The Glenlivet expressions. In addition to actual Bartenders concocting craft cocktails, a personalized Drink Machine designed specifically for the Dram Room leads attendees through a series of prompts via tablet. The Machine then analyzes the responses and dispenses a drink that aligns with their individual tastes. The experience design includes premium details like real copper, singed wood, product history, and bottle displays. The strategy ultimately helps the age-old brand find its modern stride.
Like all live experiences, active attendee participation is key to impactful spirits sampling events—multisensory engagements are the perfect mixer. When consumers feel truly immersed in a product, their memories and emotional connection to the brand is that much stronger. And the free booze never hurts!
Check out brand activations and sponsorships designed and produced by Sparks.