Brand Physical: Key Findings
Distillerie Stock has it roots in Trieste, Italy, where Lionello Stock founded the company in 1884. The brand made it's way to New York in 1939 when the founder's nephew, Bruno Morel, began Distillerie Stock USA, and established the company as importers of exceptional Italian spirits.
Today, the company markets several well-known imported spirits:
• Imported Stock Vermouth, the #2 line of Imported Vermouths
• Imported Stock'84 VSOP Brandy, among the top five Brandies in the world
• Imported Stock Liqueurs, the #1 line of Imported Liqueur
But the company's primary brand is Imported GranGala Triple Orange Liqueur, a much less expensive head-to-head competitor with Grand Marnier, a formidable icon in the liquor industry. Imported GranGala represented the greatest opportunity for growth and increased sales in both on and off premise environments.
For years, the management of Distillerie Stock cleverly leveraged its extremely modest budget by embracing the comparison to Grand Marnier rather than shying away from the liquor giant. They felt by putting themselves in the same class as Grand Marnier was the best way to define their brand
The brand challenge became how to position Imported GranGala as better, not the same. This was the challenge for both the consumer and liquor trade target audiences.
Key Marketing Insights
• Based on many unofficial and private taste tests, the Stock management knew that Imported GranGala Triple Orange Liqueur tasted better than Grand Marnier, so they commissioned the industry standard taste test conducted by BTI, the Beverage Testing Institute.
• In a margarita, Imported GranGala ranked #1 with 94 points, Cointreau was #2 with 89 points, and Grand Marnier was #3 with 86 points.
• While Imported GranGala was ranked better than both competitors, the decision was made to make the comparison only to the market leader, Grand Marnier.
• Imported GranGala is also much less expensive than Grand Marnier, but the decision was made never to focus on the price difference with consumers because research showed that a lower price implies poorer quality...especially in a market driven by the buzz of premium brands.
• The traditional Grand Marnier drinker who ordered or enjoyed it at home in a brandy snifter was "dying out," and the brand was aggressively repositioning itself for a younger target market to be enjoyed in cocktails.
• In addition to tasting better than Grand Marnier, Imported GranGala also provided retailers with far better margins, especially for the on-premise trade such as large national chain restaurants that offered branded "house" cocktails.
Consumer: Imported GranGala tastes better than Grand Marnier.
Trade: Imported GranGala tastes better than Grand Marnier...AND it offers you better profit margins.
Desired Brand Perception
"Italy's Answer To Grand Marnier." Straight up, on the rocks or in a cocktail, Imported GranGala is better tasting and more enjoyable than Grand Marnier.
Brand Sweet Spot
Focus on Imported GranGala as a key ingredient in a margarita, which is America's favorite cocktail.
• A well-known mixologist developed a recipe for "The Ultimate Margarita" with Imported GranGala instead of Grand Marnier.
• This recipe was leveraged in consumer advertising, and major chain restaurants created their own branded premium "Ultimate Margarita" featuring Imported GranGala.
Imported GranGala Touch Point Map
While an integrated marketing and advertising program form the key touch points of the branding initiative, the workhorse of the program were the efforts directed at the trade from ground floor distributor programs all the way up to a special dedicated profit-story web site.
As such, the Stock communications program funds were divided 40% consumer, 60% trade as follow:
Influencer Driven Communication Plan
Compared to Imported GranGala's competitive set - Grand Marnier and Cointreau - the brand did not have the deep marketing pockets to match their respective advertising budgets of $8,000,000 and $5,000,000.
So, a two-stage strategy was developed:
1. Create a sufficient national media blanket in lifestyle publications including a 2-page advertorial to the influencers who read The Wine Enthusiast spotlighting the Stock brand and featuring Imported GranGala. Also, In-flight GranGala TV commercials created awareness among the 4 million passengers every month on Delta Airline flights.
2. At the same time test a variety of program mixes in key high-distribution states such as Texas, Washington, Virginia and Georgia among others. Then measure results, evaluate and replicate the winning program in other high-distribution states, and continue building share and sales.
While all of the target-state marketing programs were successful in generating both on and off premise sales and profits, the Texas Plan yielded the greatest results from the following integrated program:
• Driving the program were close to 5,000,000 E-blasts sent to double opted-in target consumers over a six-month period in all the test states, with a proportionate share to those in Texas who expressed an interest in entertaining at home and preparing cocktails. The E-blasts engaged visitors to click through to special landing pages where they could download cocktail and culinary recipes.
• These people also proved to be early adopters and as influencers began a viral forwarding of the E-blast to their likeminded friends, who then forwarded the E-blast to their friends, etc.
• Ads in regional City Books such as Dallas, Houston, Austin
• TV commercials on Spike, ESPN, Discovery, FX, Sci-Fi and many others
• Local Radio supported by radio personality plugs
• Pouring events at trendy bars & lounges
• Wild postings
While creating consumer awareness of the superior taste of Imported GranGala was one of the three legs on the marketing stool, the other two were increased on-premise distribution and off-premise distribution.
• Profit oriented trade ads appeared in Cheers, Sante, Beverage Media, Nightclub & Bar, Hotel F&B, Restaurante Mexicano, and specific state beverage books
• Special "Publishers Letters" were sent to the "Top 100 Retailers" from Cheers and Sante promoting the taste and profitability of Imported GranGala.
• A complete program of Distributor materials - including Brand Videos - was developed
• Special Imported GranGala events at National Trade Shows were conducted
• A national Bartenders Original Recipe Contest with a $2,500 Grand Prize introduced bartenders to the taste and sophistication of Imported GranGala, generating thousands of entries
• In addition, an Original Recipe Contest was conducted just for Hotel F&B Managers that also generate a huge response
Strategic Creative Development
The goal of the advertising and branding was to define Imported GranGala (which had generally low awareness among target consumers) in relation to the category leader: Grand Marnier. Rather than avoid the shadow of Grand Marnier, shine the light on the taste test that identified Imported GranGala as better tasting...in a margarita.
Therefore, the creative showed both Imported GranGala and Grand Marnier.
The "Grand Champion" GranGala vs. Grand Marnier theme promising better tasting Margaritas and cocktails extended into every advertising component: Web banners, radio, TV, E-blasts, POS, Back Bar items, promotions, tasting events, etc.
Strategic Creative Tactics
Consumer: The underlying dynamics of the GranGala message was to create the benefit of being "in the know" when making margaritas, cocktails and culinary recipes with the delicious sophistication of Imported GranGala...and "knowing" a margarita should be ordered made with Imported GranGala. Recipes were the driver to increase product usage. Therefore...
• The backbone of the advertising program - Eblasts - were centered around seasonal recipes made with GranGala. They directed consumers to landing pages themed for:
• Valentine's Day
• Cinco De Mayo
• July 4th
• Summer Parties
• The Holidays
• New Years
• All creative executions drove traffic to the web site for recipes, tasting information and store finder information
The trade advertising extended the consumer "Grand Champion" message into a retail profit story.
• A special "Trade Only Profit Calculator" web site was devised so that the trade could quickly learn how much additional profit they could bring to the bottom line by switching to Imported GranGala. This proved to be a highly effective sales tool.
• To help the Stock direct sales force and their distributor teams sell-in Imported GranGala a brand positioning Laptop Video was developed to set up the key talking points of their sales presentations and reinforce the brand message.
• A complete portfolio of POS materials, dealer loaders, premiums and pouring events help gain high-visibility shelf placements.
• The Imported GranGala E-Blast program with a core of 4,848,733 E-Blasts generated better than benchmark results:
• 501,975 Opens (10.25%) compared to the Direct Marketing Association benchmark of 5% to 8%.
• 51,508 Click-Thrus (10.26%) compared to the Direct Marketing Association benchmark of 1% to 3%.
• The results of the fully integrated Imported GranGala consumer advertising and branding program generated 236,284 page views
• Significantly increased on and off premise distribution and sales
• Imported GranGala captured 20% of Grand Marnier's share
Strategic Thunder considers itself fortunate to have a relationship Distillerie Stock, a very savvy importer and marketer of superior imported Italian Spirits.