Category Archives: Marketing

Drinking in A Virtual Reality

The pandemic has put a hard stop to on-premise imbibing (in most places), but that doesn’t mean consumers are any less thirsty. Without the guiding pours of a beverage industry professional, many bon vivants have found themselves floating aimlessly through a sea of bottle shops and grocery stores, too intimidated by the countless choices to make a solid decision, scared to wind up with something that doesn’t suit their palate, and sometimes leaving empty-handed.
Enter their lifesaver: the virtual tasting.

Christopher Quinn owns and runs the much-beloved Beer Temple in Chicago and built the foundation of his now-booming virtual tasting business within a few days of the Illinois shutdown. Quinn says that initially the tastings were a way to have “something lighthearted…a way to decompress and see other people” and they have since grown in composition and popularity in the past ten months (ten centuries?) to the point that inquiries are coming in every day. These virtual events have the capacity to serve consumer needs while simultaneously amplifying brand reach, and Quinn explains that “with the lack of a way for brands to get in front of the end consumer, [virtual tastings] can get engagement [with] more of a long-format discussion.” He believes that this outlet creates an “unprecedented” level of engagement for brands due to the fact that “[consumers] are sitting there for half an hour to an hour or more just listening” and that even in a pre-COVID world, “it’s hard to get that level [of attention].”

Another movement to creating the self-assured sip can be found in Slik Wines: an intersectionally-minded virtual wine education platform co-founded by somm trio Marie Cheslik, Kyla Peal, and Danielle Norris. Slik’s ethos is “making [wine] accessible for everyone,” and Norris reassures that “none of this has to be scary” because “if we are truly doing our job, we are creating comfort” in giving consumers “confidence when [they] go to the store.” The highly-customizable spread of offerings in their tastings bursts wine’s often-austere bubble and opens the world of wine to even the most timid tippler. Cheslik points to their inventive consumer-focused Blind Tasting 101, an exercise previously shrouded in the “serious master somm category” but that has been Slik’d into “a fun drinking game” as virtual education that both relaxes and energizes its participants.

In addition to seeing clients immediately purchase the products their tastings have introduced them to, both Quinn and the Slik team feel that the level of approachable and familiar engagement that exists in the virtual tasting sphere creates a highly-coveted intimate relationship between brand and consumer. “[Consumers] need someone to say ‘this is delicious, you gotta check it out, you’re gonna love it,'” which Cheslik says naturally leads to people going out and saying ” ‘I remember us having that and now I feel comfortable [buying it].'” The sometimes-intimidating atmosphere of a tableside somm (where often the standing professional is literally talking down to the seated self-effacing guest) is hence transformed into a casual, cordial conversation between co-humans that are alike in their potable passion.

If a brand is still on the fence about whether or not to partner up for a virtual tasting, Quinn urges that “now is the time to do it” because it’s still exciting and fresh and has potential to further lay the groundwork to “iterate off of it once we can be in-person.” Additionally, with bars and restaurants closed, holiday celebrations have been relocated to homes, meaning there is a unique chance for brands to incorporate themselves into lasting personal memories with their consumer base. Slik has taken this opportunity to the next level, curating the créme de la créme of a party by partnering with a brand to offer a stellar steal of a New Year’s Eve deal for two (i.e. a magnum of brut reserve Champagne, 50g of caviar plus fixins and two Mother of Pearl spoons, a CONFETTI CANNON, and exclusive access to Zoom festivities that will pop 2020 into oblivion).  “We are your freelance sommeliers,” says Cheslik, reiterating that Slik’s role as a “liaison” to enjoying wine “spreads the good word” and creates and educated and confident consumer base. It is through this innovation by industry pros like Quinn, Cheslik, Peal, and Norris that the platform of virtual tasting builds an inviting bridge between brands and consumers, establishing loyalty that will last long after the pandemic is in the past.



Brand Survival in a Pandemic: Why Digital Advertising is the Best Use of Your Marketing Budget

In the unparalleled reality of the global pandemic, alcohol beverage brands must push themselves harder than ever in order to stay afloat. Nielsen estimates that across all alcohol categories, US markets alone must sustain 22% volume growth in off-premise sales “in order to merely level off from the impact of closed bars and restaurants.” To create and continue this necessary momentum, brands are having to innovate quickly, and we spoke with three in particular who feel that their successful swivel into digital marketing has ensured their survival.

Viable Vicissitude

Greg Goodson, Digital Marketing Manager for Virginia Distillery Co., says that “when COVID hit and hit hard, my position became three times as important.” On-premise closures meant furloughing of sales staff and the company needed to make fast changes. Goodson’s collection of previous experience at a digital ad agency, an e-commerce company, and a software startup prepared him to respond quickly, and he prioritized well, stating that “it’s been like a startup” and so “we certainly put more budget towards [digital marketing].” Another producer, Fast Penny Spirits, has been facing similar challenges when launching their flagship Amaricano amaro in July, and Co-Founders Jamie Hunt and Holly Robinson also had to reconfigure their budget to account for “leaning hard” on digital advertising, explaining that their initial planning was structured around spending money with distributors, but that “with the reality of the pandemic, we had to shift to more of a direct-to-consumer pivot” requiring “more advertising dollars to be spent, especially in social media.” Ashleigh Muray, VP of Global e-Commerce for Lyre’s, echoes this duress of “dollars going further” and points out that with many budgets being cut, “you need to be smarter with your money and time,” in this case advising that brands “take traditional concepts and flip them into a digital format to survive.”

Fast Penny Spirits' Flagship "Amaricano"

Fast Penny Spirits’ “Amaricano” launched in July of 2020.

Though these brands have been tackling the tumultuous task of introducing new products to the market in preternatural circumstances, digital advertising has allowed them to benefit from the nebulosity. Hunt and Robinson recognize that “the rules are constantly changing” but they are encouraged by their belief that “right now they’re changing for the better” by becoming “a little less restrictive.” Shifts in distribution laws have allowed, in many cases for the first time, producers to ship directly to consumers, and Goodson says that by using social media messaging to convey this opportunity, it has kept Virginia Distillery Co. “up to our eyeballs in packing boxes.” This new avenue of direct consumer purchasing has also nudged general company modernization with Virginia Distillery Co.’s website becoming “nicely built out” compared to “the way it looked a year ago.” Murray also feels that the heavy reliance on digital marketing has pushed Lyre’s to “be creative and think outside the square.” Due to the halting of in-store tastings, Lyre’s now offers “virtual private mixology Zoom lessons” for all of their customers, creating a more personal experience and a closer connection to buyers. Murray has also learned to quickly shift the relevancy of social media posts, acknowledging that “groups of people together in bars touching and cheersing glasses” is “no longer appropriate imagery.” She says that this has resulted in content that, previously “structured and planned for months in advance,” has now become more “organic” and “in-the-moment.”

“Get a better hold on trends of buyers.” – Greg Goodson, Digital Marketing Manager for Virginia Distillery Co.

Measurable Metrics Mitigate Risk

Though spending money during a global industry crisis may feel daunting, the platforms of digital advertising generate real-time numbers that offer brands the space to swiftly customize to their personal needs. Unable to hold a big launch party, Hunt and Robinson have primarily promoted their Amaricano on Instagram and Facebook to “get our brand, our bottle in front of peoples’ eyes and generate interest,” creating “a basic community to communicate with.” By starting “really small,” and slowly growing their “ad spend” they can attest that through testing out “having [ads] and then not having them,” there was a clear decrease in sales without them. Murray encourages nervous brands that haven’t dipped into social media yet, reassuring them that “it is worth it” as long as they are “prepared to test the waters for a period of time,” further bolstering that “once you uncover what works for your brand, [digital advertising] is a channel absolutely worth playing in.”

A selection of non-alcoholic offerings from Lyre’s.

Goodson gushes over the immense return of investment in ads on Google, Facebook, and Instagram, pointing out that “if we sell a bottle, we can tell where that sale has come from,” which creates infinite tracking abilities: “something we never had access to before the pandemic.” In addition to keying into which platforms have led to the most revenue, sales resulting from digital marketing generate a wealth of consumer information. Though Virginia Distillery Co.’s tasting room (now temporarily closed) offered Goodson the opportunity to eavesdrop on visitors’ conversations, online purchases create a detailed demographic map of confirmed purchasers. An email address leads to opportunities for further promotional reach outs, and the input of birthdays to confirm legal purchasing age creates an age range of who’s buying what, culminating in what Goodson refers to as “fascinating data” that allows brands to put themselves “in the shoes of our customers” to “get a better hold on trends of buyers” and quickly reflect those trends in digital strategies to capture the most sales. In applying her 20+ year experience in agency consulting to a first-time spirits endeavor with Fast Penny, Hunt plugs that “becoming digital is really important” and allows brands to “understand a little bit more, make change a lot quicker, innovate.” Through the data pool created by digital platforms, Hunt and Robinson get “direct” feedback, which they feel “would have been tougher to get through retailers.”

Deliberate Messaging Delivers

To get the most out of the lucrative opportunities presented by digital marketing, brands must sharpen their messaging techniques. Goodson recognizes that “everyone likes free shipping” in the 21st century, but bottles are heavy and additional adult signature fees add up. In response, Virginia Distillery Co. broadcasts dollar shipping rates for sales of two bottles or more, simultaneously offsetting packaging costs and elevating sales because “our customers’ shopping carts are a little more full.” As a non-alcoholic brand, Lyre’s requires very “obvious” communication in its messaging, and Murray finds that ads featuring recipes for “cocktails, cocktails, cocktails” have been successful in guiding consumers to bundle their purchases.

“Courage & Conviction,” Virginia Distillery Co.’s new American Single Malt Whisky.

Due to the widespread shift towards digital marketing, brands must additionally promote measurable achievements in order to stand out. Murray advocates for the inclusion of “award wins” and “sharing reviews/testimonials” to capture consumer attention on social media platforms. Goodson also swears by validated quality claims, explaining that when a consumer searches, for example, Virginia Distillery Co.’s Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky, “the product description has good ratings and awards we’ve received” which “certainly helps.” He further stresses the value of award display as “another opportunity to up-sell,” reassuring the consumer that their hard-earned money is well-spent when they know that what they’re buying has received verifiable acclaim.

“Once you uncover what works for you brand, [digital advertising] is a channel absolutely worth playing in.” – Ashleigh Murray, VP of Global eCommerce for Lyre’s

Brand-building in a pandemic may come in its own set of previously unheard-of challenges, but with conscious spin, precise assessment, and intentional articulation, the calculated use of digital marketing has the potential to elevate the beverage industry to new horizons of success.

For more information about using your BTI Award in digital advertising contact to learn about licensing options.

Market/ing Research in Reach

Beverage Testing Institute’s panel of spirits industry experts presented an American Distilling Institute 2020 Conference seminar about the simple and sophisticated market research tools available to craft brands. Featuring:

Monique Huston, Vice President of Wholesale Spirits for Winebow
Lee Zaremba, Corporate Beverage Director fof Boka restaurant group
Chuck Lyle, Director of Marketing and Innovation at Green River Spirits Company (Formerly Terressentia Corporation)
Jerald O’Kennard, Executive Director of Beverage Testing Institute
Laura Kruming-Berg, Associate Director of Beverage Testing Institute

Labeled for Failure: 3 Obstacles to Successful Packaging (and Their Solutions)

“We’ve seen some people start to feel that maybe packaging is not as important and I would make the argument that it’s more important than ever.” – David Schuemann, Owner/Creative Principal of CF Napa Brand Design

It is widely known that the alcohol beverage market is saturated with offerings, and the clamor for coveted space in consumers’ shopping carts is only becoming more competitive. BTI spoke with brand design firms from coast to coast that vehemently assert that the foundation of a brand’s success, as well as its failure, lies in its packaging. Though these authorities forecast imminent collapse for brands that don’t invest in professional design, that blend in with the crowd, and that rush through fine details in development, they have also shared their keen insights on forward-thinking strategies that, if heeded, both establish and secure the modern consumer’s attention.

1. Don’t Be Cheap

According to our design experts, one of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is not allocating room in the budget for packaging development. David Schuemann, Owner and Creative Principal of CF Napa Brand Design, says that “we’ve seen some people start to feel that maybe packaging is not as important and I would make the argument that it’s more important than ever.” Kevin Shaw, Owner of design firm Stranger & Stranger, points out that “you have to get inside your customer’s head” in order to avoid “designing for yourself.” According to Scout Driscoll, Founder and CEO of wine branding and design firm VINT, another pitfall is “having your friends design a label.” Driscoll urges even smaller producers to invest in a professional designer because “if you don’t sell it, if people aren’t buying it, you’re going out of business.” Nicole Flores and Kat Karpati, Creative and Executive Directors at Hatch Design, say that many brands they’ve worked with start with in-house design, but that then, eventually, “a few years down the road, they’ll come to us to help them get to the next level.”

Schuemann understands that a lot of producers are “bootstrapping it,” but pushes that investing in professional designers is essential because, initially, “what [you’re] selling is the packaging more than the product itself.” Most design firms have tiered pricing in order to offer solutions for a range of budgets, and “given that distributors are not just out there pounding the pavement,” Schuemann justifies the metrics for successful packaging as being delivered in “clean numbers” when sales jump. When working with designers, Driscoll encourages brands to “make your marketing choices with your head and not your gut.” For those smaller producers that are tentative about affording a designer, she notes that “if they have one beautiful label design that’s locked in and recognizable” they can modify that slightly across the numerous offerings within the brand, a solution that’s “much more affordable than doing a custom design for every single [product] they offer.” Having outside eyes on a packaging project can also create a better idea of not just who a brand is but “what they want to be,” and Flores and Karpati feels this emboldens producers to “see the forest through the trees.”

“If you don’t sell it, if people aren’t buying it, you’re going out of business.” Scout Driscoll, Founder and CEO of wine branding and design firm VINT

2. Don’t Be Boring 

A common challenge faced when launching a product in an overflowing category is making your brand stand out while maintaining recognizable characteristics. Driscoll acknowledges that “there’s certainly a long legacy of aesthetics that are tied to certain styles of wine” and that you want your brand’s packaging to “trigger those feelings” while still “pushing the envelope,” further pressing that “when people don’t differentiate, when they copy or try to follow in the footsteps of their biggest competitor, it’s a huge mistake because they’re not identifying what makes their brand unique.” Schuemann echoes warnings against this, giving the example of a client that was in the “saturated sector” of vodka, describing that it had a “fairly decent following” but “terrible packaging” that was not lined up with the quality of the product, and therefore did not stand out on shelves already jostling with clear offerings. Shaw agrees that packaging shouldn’t just fall in line with that of the others in its category; he “cuts to the chase” and asks, if on a long row of similar products, “why should anyone care about [your brand]?” Shaw adds that in ensuring your product stands out, “yearly trends are never to be followed” for many reasons, but essentially because “it can take two years for a brand to make it from briefing to shelf stocking and will look out of date before it’s even launched.” Flores and Karpati further surmise that with every trend comes a “backswing.”

There are many solutions to making sure a brand doesn’t fall into what Shaw refers to as an “existential wormhole.” Driscoll attests that “all consumers truly crave an authentic brand,” and just need “something they can connect with that’s rooted in a very clear story.” Schuemann calls this the “brand essence,” the “heart and soul of the brand,” and encourages the development of a story around which to “wrap the packaging” to help express it, a process his firm took with the redesign of the aforementioned vodka which has since “completely taken off.” Flores and Karpati urge brands to be “provocative” with their packaging because many consumers have chosen their go-to products and therefore need “inspired desire” to be “provoked” into a new promised experience. In taking the risk of pushing forwards provocatively, Shaw reassures that “polarization is good,” and that it’s okay if “[some] people don’t like you” as long as “some people love you.”

“Why should anyone care about [your brand]?” – Kevin Shaw, Owner of design firm Stranger & Stranger

3. Don’t Rush & Gloss – Brush & Polish

Even after carefully examining the many facets of packaging that reflect a brand’s identity, things can still fall through the cracks. Schuemann often sees a lack of attention given to functionality and finds it “amazing” that so many products wind up with “bubbles and rips and tears and labels that go on crooked and just don’t look very good” as well as the headache of “[bottle] shapes that couldn’t hold the screenprinting or label,” leaving producers with “thousands of bottles they can’t use” and expensive delays that butt up against launch dates. Though it should be obvious, he also urges that brands ensure their labels are TTB compliant and to be aware of possible trademark infringement, warning that “you kinda get what you pay for” when “there are a lot of online design resources…that are just copying things they’ve seen” which can result in “lawsuits that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road.”

When running over your packaging with a fine-tooth comb, consider that the specific patterns of the current market are instrumental to your brand’s prosperity. We don’t need to be reminded that we are living in a world in which social media is a heavily relied-upon platform, and Driscoll counsels that “it’s really important that your packaging design be recognizable on a tiny phone” because “your label, for the most part with people buying online, is going to be a centimeter tall” so it’s crucial that your brand is “differentiated at a glance.” Driscoll cautions that “if you’re not saying something distinct” that can be interpreted “in the blink of an eye,” then “you’ve really not done your product justice.” Once purchased, Flores and Karpati carry the importance of stressing instantaneous brand identification into the modern era of “grab and go, single-serve” products. As opposed to the time consumers spend with a “gallon of milk or orange juice that sits in [the] fridge” for a number of days, consumers are spending mere minutes to hours with single serving beverages, which means that your brand’s packaging has a limited amount of time in which to convey its story and offerings. An additional way to secure what Shaw refers to as “well-designed products that over-deliver on the shelf” that simultaneously “deliver clear stories on screen,” both Driscoll and Schuemann avidly emphasize the display or awards and tasting notes. “When you’re selling online you have a consumer that can’t pick [your product] up, can’t touch it and feel it and certainly can’t taste it,’ which Schuemann acknowledges makes it “that much harder” to describe the “intrinsic value.” Driscoll finds the solution in “including a tasting profile” in addition to any awards in order to drive home “what really makes [your product] special.”

With almost 40 years of experience with thousands of brands, BTI can confirm that problematic planning yields problematic packaging, and that corner-cutting, monotonous, and thoughtless products do not succeed. BTI’s Associate Director, Laura Kruming-Berg, further stresses the lessons offered by these expert designers, concluding that “this is not just marketing speak from design firms seeking new clients,” nor “tactics for big budget brands,” but rather “non-negotiable rules for brands of all sizes.”

Interview With Drizly’s Liz Paquette – BDMA Webinar Archive

On April 30, 2020, BTI Director Jerald O’Kennard, Bond Moroch’s Jordan Friedman, and Clout’s Michon Ellis interviewed Liz Paquette, Director of Brand at Drizly, about her insights on customers, tactics, brands, and opportunities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capturing the Enlightened Consumer: Conscious Brand Definition with Uncle Nearest’s Fawn Weaver and Chris Benziger of Benziger Family Winery

With a beverage market that is growing at an exponential rate, it is becoming increasingly difficult for any brand to stand out from its competition. This is especially challenging as consumers and beverage professionals alike pay closer attention to the transparency that a brand provides; more information is becoming more and more of a purchasing priority. Following this trend, a brand’s “conscious” identity, and promotion of the practices that support it, can create a major push when it comes to buying. Beverage Testing Institute defines a conscious brand as one that is active in bettering the environment and/or the community, and with countless ways for members of the beverage industry to do just that, we spoke with several producers about their different definitions and applications of the term in their practices.

Conscious Spirits

Del Maguey, a mezcal brand much-beloved by the industry as well as the consumer market, roots its ethical decision-making in honoring “family, tradition, and community.” Demand for the category has skyrocketed in the 25 years Del Maguey has been around, which, like with rising calls for any agriculturally sourced product, presents the potential risk of over-harvesting in order to satisfy consumer requests. Misty Kalkofen, “Madrina” for the brand since 2013, cements Del Maguey’s commitments, stating that “We need to be conscious of where the industry is going while simultaneously being respectful of the culture and being aligned with the artisanal nature of our surroundings.” These commitments range from the environmental, renewable energy initiatives and ensuring healthy populations of wild maguey, to the social, creating water accessibility, scholarship programs, fair-trade premiums for workers, and more. After a recent acquisition by Pernod Ricard, there were concerned rumblings about Del Maguey becoming too big to stay sustainable, but Kalkofen explains that it has only served to strengthen their sustainability ambitions. “For 25 years we have been exporters of more than mezcal. We have been exporters of culture, which in turn has improved access to education, technology, and basic needs, while also supporting healthy ecosystems in communities in Oaxaca and Puebla.”

 In the same vein of supporting family and tradition, Uncle Nearest Tennessee Whiskey, co-founded by Fawn Weaver in 2017 on the principles of “love, honor, and respect,” uses the true narrative of its namesake’s history to peak the consumer’s interest and harness visibility to put towards conscious efforts. Nathan “Nearest” Green, though an expert in the whiskey-making craft (which he is credited with teaching to Jack Daniel), was a slave and therefore never able to receive a formal education. The Nearest Green Legacy Scholarship is a conscious effort to enrich future generations of this important history’s bloodline. “All of Nearest Green’s descendants of college-age have an automatic full scholarship to any university in the world to which they are accepted,” a practice that Weaver explains “just felt like the right thing to do.” Since Uncle Nearest doesn’t “lay out a giving agenda ahead of time” and instead, as Weaver puts it, “does their best to meet needs as they arise,” the company’s acts of consciousness have risen to the call of the COVID-19 pandemic, purchasing hundreds of thousands of N-95 masks and donating and distributing them to front-line workers and hard-hit African American communities across the country. As a whole, Weaver affirms that “giving is so ingrained in our company culture…perhaps that is what a ‘conscious’ company looks like.” Companies like Uncle Nearest and Del Maguey put quality products in their bottles, but it is their unwavering and continuous commitment to sustainable conscious acts that creates loyal followers.

Conscious Wines

8,000 years (and counting!) of wine production means there’s always time for conscious innovation. The folks at Benziger Winery in Sonoma County, California impart both “character and conscience” into every wine they make. Chris Benziger, VP of Trade Relations, states that “We define a ‘conscious’ wine as one that is not only delicious, but also grown in a way that cares for the environment.” Echoing this sentiment, Rachel Newman of Bonterra Organic Vineyards says that they express their conscious methods through “deep respect for the environment,” and they further believe that “organic farming and regenerative practices enrich the biodiversity in our vineyards year after year, enabling us to produce pure expressions of the varietals we grow, while enhancing the land on which they are farmed for today and tomorrow.” While it can require some alternative thinking and a bit of trial and error, green winemaking practices (certified sustainable, organic, biodynamic) result in high-quality fruit and yields very comparable to those of conventional producers. Wine production executed in conscious consideration of the land can also result in what Benziger refers to as “distinctive, authentic wines,” creating a unique and special product that consumers can identify and pluck from the larger flock of options. Benziger apprises that “now, more than ever, consumers are looking for wines made with considerations for the environment, from sustainable to organic, and more.”

Conscious Beers

The beer industry holds shining examples of success-generating conscious production. Privatebrauerei Hofmühl, located in Eichstätt, Germany, has been in production for over 500 years. Though well-established for centuries, their conscious efforts in the past two decades have led to a 40% reduction of their carbon footprint by way of solar panels, mindful brewing techniques, and smart excess grain/yeast diversion. Their award-winning brews are in high-demand, yet they keep distribution extremely local, both ensuring top-quality for consumers as well as keeping fuel consumption low.

Full Sail Brewing, in Hood River, Oregon, also considers the environment in their day-to-day production, with extremely low water usage and distribution of spent grain to local farmers (whose products they then feature on the menu in their brewpub!). Full Sail then pushes their conscious commitment even further by taking responsibility for their community with an on-site water treatment plan, which their website explaining that “as much as we are committed to brewing great beers, we are also committed to our community.” A producer’s local ethics can create hometown allegiance, and their larger-scale environmental consciousness captures the larger consumer market.

Through environmental consideration, commitment to community, pledges to upholding tradition, and more, there is infinite room under the conscious umbrella for brands across all categories of the beverage industry to capture demand for enlightened consumption. It’s never too late to consider ways to do well by doing good.

Alcohol Marketing During COV-19 – BTI Webinar Archive

On April 7, 2020, BTI Director Jerald O’Kennard, Jordan Friedman from Bond Moroch and Michon Ellis from Clout discussed tactics and recommendations for beverage alcohol brands looking to make an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Five Steps to Sales Through The “Buy It Now” Button on Your Review Page

Take Advantage of the 291% Increase in E-commerce Liquor Sales

According to Nielsen, e-commerce sales of alcohol have skyrocketed 291% compared to pre-COVID-19 periods. Based on’s search traffic, we predict that e-commerce sales will stay elevated long after shelter-in-place orders expire. How can you thrive in this rapidly shifting market? Our new trade portal allows you to seamlessly convert review page views to sales on your e-commerce platforms and through partner retailers and delivery services.

The launch of our new trade portal has made our “Buy It Now” button more valuable than ever. As we know, consumers are increasingly turning to reviews before they make purchasing decisions. You can direct those curious consumers right to the point of purchase by using the BTI Trade Portal to input custom links to online retailers carrying your products. Follow the steps below for increased sales opportunities.

Step one: Log in to the portal at

Step two: Click on “E-COMMERCE”.

Step three: Click on the pencil icon for the specific product you would like to link up.

Step four: Enter direct links to your product’s page on retailers that are currently selling this specific product. Don’t just link to the retailers homepage, make sure they land directly on your product’s page for that retailer. You can link to any other site that indicates where your products can be purchased.

Step five: Repeat steps three and four until all your products have been linked. You will see the links immediately when you click on the Buy It Now button on your product’s review page.

Stay tuned for our “Try It Now” button that will allow you to link to bars and restaurants carrying your products.


Questions about using the portal? Get in touch with us at

Thriving in the Era of COVID-19

Beverage brands are scrambling to figure out how to keep their businesses moving forward in a time of shuttered restaurants and bars, shelter-in-place orders, and the economic uncertainties that are changing consumer buying patterns. We share our tips for adapting to this disruption while continuing to provide real value to trade and consumers.

How do you adapt to the disruption?

Refocus your on-premise approach
Marketing to the on-premise accounts has always been about providing value and filling the needs of bartenders, sommeliers and restaurateurs. This time of social distancing is no different, but you’ll need to adapt to the changing environment. Restaurants are closed and bartenders are out of work. How will you maintain those relationships? How can your brand fill the interim needs of these figures that are essential to our industry? Is there any room to reallocate some marketing funds in order to help the bar and restaurant employees that you depend on? Beverage directors are itching to get back to work. We’ve even heard word that some are putting together spring menus in this time off. This is the perfect time to connect one-on-one with a phone call or social media message to your on-premise customers and ask how you can help them in this time of need.

Offer an easy path to purchase
The market need for alcohol has certainly not changed, though the methods to obtain it certainly have. Now is the time to ramp up your direct-to-consumer channels. If you are a spirits brand, can you or your accounts sign on with channels like Drizly, Mercari, or Spirit Hub? If you’re a wine brand, how can you strengthen your mail-order option for consumers? More importantly, how will you communicate with your customers that these options are available? Your BTI review comes with a customizable “Buy-it-Now” button that links your product’s review page to your ecommerce solution. Make it effortless for viewers to click to buy when they land on your review page.

Keep your customers engaged
Now is the time to engage longtime and new customers through new and existing channels. BTI can help you connect with our 100,000 monthly visitors on and through our trade network of 18,000 active drinks industry members. A BTI review is the ultimate tool for marketing on a budget. Engage consumers, get free promotional tools for point-of-sale and digital marketing, keep your brand top-of-mind in beverage directors that can’t wait to get back to work.

Re-concept your advertising strategy
On-premise sales have come to a halt, so how can you use that down time? Jordan Friedman of Bond Moroch, a brand marketing, PR and digital agency suggests creative ways of reaching your customers. Since people are mostly confined to their homes, smart brands are thinking about ways to get into people’s homes. Since most people who are watching TV are either watching the news, or are binge-watching Netflix and Hulu, traditional television advertising won’t be as effective as it once was.  And advertising on news sites and social media platforms can only go so far, since some may have restrictions when it comes to alcohol marketing. The good news is, there are ways to meaningfully engage with customers in the digital realm by curating unique and branded experiences. We have an upcoming webinar on specific techniques and tactics that can be utilized. Follow us on social media @beveragetestinginstitute for webinar times.

Get your brand in front of buyers and influencers, despite event cancellations
Every major trade show and tasting event has been cancelled, but Beverage Testing Institute’s year-round professional review service is still accepting entries and publishing results. By participating in our published reviews, you are getting access to a proven brand-amplification platform designed to communicate the quality, style and story of your brand to our 100,000 monthly visitors.


Beverage Testing Institute, Clout And Bond Moroch Announce Alliance To Help Beverage Companies Drive Winning Brands



For Immediate Release
March 17, 2020


Beverage Development Marketing Alliance (BDMA) Aims to Help Beverage Brands Pivot During This Significant Market Disruption.

Chicago, IL & New Orleans, LA – Beverage Testing Institute, the nation’s leading independent beverage rating and review company, Bond Moroch, an award-winning integrated marketing firm, and CLOUT, one of the nation’s premier public relations and corporate communications agencies, today announced they have cemented a working partnership. Through this partnership, formally known as the Beverage Development Marketing Alliance (BDMA), players in the highly-competitive wine, beer and spirits arenas gain a new mechanism for simultaneously creating both winning products and brands.

BDMA has nearly 50 years of collective experience in developing and refining liquids, brand strategies and campaigns for some of the world’s best beverage companies including Coca-Cola, Bacardi USA and Beam Suntory.

While our nation is facing an unprecedented disruption, consumers and brands are continuing to push forward, buy products and make products.  Many brands which had earmarked funds for event sponsorships in their marketing budgets now have that capital available for advertising, PR and digital.   The BDMA can help brands quickly pivot and engage with the consumers they planned to capture through sponsorships and event marketing.

Chicago-based Beverage Testing Institute is a multi-faceted organization that provides ratings, beverage buying guides, and education for consumers and the trade through its publication  A certified member of the American Society of Testing and Materials, Beverage Testing Institute’s consulting division helps beverage industry competitors develop, refine and optimize their products and is considered to be the industry leader in liquid and brand analysis and development.

Headquartered in New Orleans, the undisputed alcoholic beverage capital of the planet, Bond Moroch works with alcoholic beverage brands to develop and market winning brands.  From start-ups and regional players, to household-name brands, Bond Moroch has helped beverage competitors create powerful brands that stand out in crowded marketplaces and capture the preference of discerning customers.

Based in Chicago, CLOUT helps leading as well as challenger beverage and spirits brands influence the markets they serve and protect their corporate reputations. In addition to garnering positive media coverage and brand publicity for their clients, the PR firm also specializes in developing beverage and spirits brand personas and product narratives that will resonate with target audiences. CLOUT also leads corporate communications strategies for brands that addresses investor and employee communications as well as establishes crisis prevention and management protocols.

CLOUT CEO Michon Ellis states, “Beverage players need to place as much of an emphasis on understanding their consumers and how best to communicate with them – now more than ever.  What to say, and more importantly how to say it, is imperative when developing an effective public relations or corporate communications strategy for any wine, beer or spirit brand. Their target audiences value exclusivity and are adventurous as well as curious.  Communicating in a way that inspires them to take action can be complex. The BDMA helps to remove that complexity by ensuring seamless communications excellence from concept, to launch, to in-market maintenance.”

According to Jerald O’Kennard, director of Beverage Testing Institute, “The BDMA is the go-to solution to provide marketing services, industry connections, and brand amplification now that all of Spring’s trade events have cancelled.  Our original vision with the BDMA partnership was to help our wine, beer and spirits clients dramatically accelerate their go-to-market process by linking the brand and product development processes, and make them simultaneous.  Our aim is to go all the way upstream conceptually with our clients, and ensure that their products and brands are forged in the same furnace.”

Bond Moroch partner Skipper Bond continues, “Much in the same way that people ask what comes first, the chicken or the egg, many wonder what comes first, the product or the brand.  Our partnership with Beverage Testing Institute and CLOUT is born from our vision to go in a completely different direction.  We believe the product and brand development processes need to be interwoven at the very outset, at the concept stage. In uncertain times, brands need to robustly engage with their consumers, because when times get better, those bonds are remembered.  We don’t simply market brands.  We help to create brand loyalty.

About Beverage Testing Institute
BTI is the research, advisory and engagement company that helps alcohol brands be better. Their value to the trade is built on their unique position as an advocate for the alcohol beverage industry, an independent publication, and a decades-long, consumer-trusted brand. On this foundation, they develop, refine, recognize, and launch the world’s best beverages. For 39 years, their clients and partners have accelerated their development processes, improved the quality of their products, and amplified their brands reputation and worth through quality-centric messages and marketing strategies that they have developed with them. Visit for case studies and solutions.

About Bond Moroch
Based in New Orleans, Bond Moroch works with household-name brands to achieve success in competitive, complex marketplaces.  Using a mixture of art (creativity, imagination) and science (research, robust data mining and customer discovery), they help their clients create and optimize brands that touch and enrich the lives of their customers every day.

Founded in 2019, CLOUT is a public relations and corporate communications agency providing strategic communications counsel and turn-key public relations tools as well as tactics that empower companies and brands to grow their bottom line, influence the markets they serve and protect their corporate reputations.


Media Contacts:

Jerald O’ Kennard
Beverage Testing Institute
P: (773) 930.4080

Jordan Friedman
Bond Moroch
P: (504) 323-8130

Michon Ellis
P: (312) 883-5381