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 Tastings.com 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 Tastings.com 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 Tastings.com visitors.

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Laurent-Xavier Gilbert,
VP Development at La Brasserie Unibroue
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Joe Gray,
Editor, Chicago Tribune
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Jan Wells,
VP of Marketing, Cannon Wines
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Edwin Richards,
Winemaker/Owner, Adastra
“Our BTI awards have helped us with our US distribution. Sales have increased form 0 cases to 250 cases in just a couple of months. We opened two new accounts in Seattle and New York.”
Eduardo Aguirre Victoria,
Terre de Vignerons
“[BTI's] Tastings.com is well known as a main reference for connoisseurs, experts and followers of spirits.”
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Ron Barcelo
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Mike Huffman,
Whidbey Island Distillery
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Janet Soderberg,
Alamira Wines, Vistaflores Estate
When we found out that our 20 year Pappy Van Winkle had been entered in BTI's 1997 World Spirits Championships and received their 99-point rating, that’s when we started getting calls from distributors around the country looking for our whiskey.

That was a benchmark moment for our business. Every time we received a high rating from BTI over the years, interest increased for our brand.

We owe a lot to the Beverage Testing Institute for our success.
Julian P. Van Winkle, III,
President, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery

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