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Brown-Forman leverages mobile to connect content, retail experiences

NEW YORK – A Brown-Forman executive at the 2015 Mobile Marketing Association Forum New York talked about how the company is using mobile to help drive patrons to the bar, reach drinking-age millennials and connect with consumers.

The session, “Location on Mobile Reaches the Elusive Millennial Target for Major Liquor Marketer, Brown-Forman,” showcased the brand’s work with Foursquare over the last year and how it is transforming the brand’s marketing strategy with mobile. The session emphasized mobile’s ability to bring together the diverse elements of the value chain, including production, marketing and the provision of after-sales service.

“Whoever those partners are, that’s where the opportunity is,” said Jason Loehr, vice president and director of global media and digital marketing for Brown-Forman, Louisville, KY, in conversation with Steven Rosenblatt, chief revenue officer for Foursquare. “Making sure we are activating them is a key part of the process.”

“[The opportunity for us is in] working with them on how we can better connect our content into the retail experience,” he said. “The fact you are literally physically there while the product is nearby. And you’re starting to see other folks just trying to connect mobile to that process.”

Brown-Forman is the parent of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey, Southern Comfort and Finlandia vodka.

Mobile marketing
Mr. Loehr suggested that drinks brands and other marketers of products that are consumed only in the physical realm would benefit from allowing a mobile strategy to flow organically from a consumer-first perspective.

Jason Loehr, left, with Steven Rosenblatt at MMA Forum New York.

He highlighted how Brown-Forman, one of the largest United States companies in the wine and spirits business, avoids focusing too closely on mobile strategy lest it miss some nuance essential to understanding the consumer’s point of view.

“If you do put the consumer at the center of the conversation and follow where their path is, a device is going to pop up immediately,” Mr. Loehr said.

“For us, it’s if we’re going to try to do this, let’s think through the lens of mobile-first. And design from that and then work our way back to the desktop.”

Brown-Forman does not sell its product directly in the United States, except for wine.

Mr. Loehr talked about Brown-Forman’s work with Foursquare over the last year and how it is transforming the brand’s marketing strategy with mobile.

One campaign last summer served Foursquare users el Jimador tequila mobile ads in response to their searches for a tavern or other liquor-carrying establishment where they could watch the World Cup soccer tournament.

The outreach leveraged Foursquare’s strength as a tool for searching for and discovering nearby places and restaurants as well as the personalized native experiences in its local search and discovery service mobile app.

Including an ad for the tequila brand helped enhance the experience of places the consumer wanted to visit, in line with Foursquare’s mission to provide highly personalized recommendations of the best places to go around a user’s current location.

Similar campaigns showcased Finlandia, Jack Daniels and other Brown-Forman brands.

In one campaign, Foursquare served Jack Daniels ads to consumers searching for a sports bar where they could watch NCAA March Madness. The ads reminded them to consume the bourbon while watching the college basketball tournament.

Other wine and spirits companies are leveraging mobile to drive engagement and sales.

Constellation Brands, a leading premium wine company, invests 25 percent of its wine and spirits marketing budget on digital, with a particular focus on mobile given that wine drinkers tend to be heavy users of these devices.

A 200 percent increase has been observed in digital engagement, and while in the past, the company leveraged third-party apps such as Hello Vino and Shopkick, more recently it has been focused on tracking mobile ads back to incremental sales.

Out of 80 million digital wine drinkers, 45 percent are more likely to use mobile devices compared to the average consumer. They also spend more time on digital media than offline media, totaling 22 hours each week and talk about wine online 63 times every minute.

For wine and spirits makers, mobile is the bridge between the digital world and the physical world.

About 60 percent of the purchase decision is made in store and just over 50 percent of shoppers use technology while shopping.

The key in mobile marketing in the drinks vertical is taking the extra step to understand the consumer.

Individual traits
In an example of its holistic philosophy, Brown-Forman treats its brands differently to accent individual character traits. Some brands concentrate on building awareness, others on advocacy.

Looking into mobile’s power to unify disparate elements of the value chain.

“This is a great opportunity for companies that sell only in physical locations to accelerate the process,” Mr. Rosenblatt said. “Let’s move the needle in terms of getting people into locations and places where your products are sold.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York