I was in Ireland this past weekend. Dublin is really a pretty city and has so much to offer for the spirits and beer lover. Never mind the fact that, for me atleast, it feels like the entire city can turn into a bar fight at any given time. Its people are nice, generous, and giving of their time and very proud of the rich history of Ireland. The city is all about Guinness and Jamison and steeped in a rich history of politics, celebration and exuberance.
Even though I was on mini-retreat from the states I did manage to see two properties that are absolutely killer for brand owners to see and visit. Guinness and a new country-side distillery called Powerscourt. Both take the brand experience to the next level and even if sales get soft globally/ the consumer experience is off the charts good.
We talk all the time in this column that what is in the bottle, while important, is only part of the fight. One brand I visited is a global leader and one is in startup phase yet both take the branding experience and consumer pull experience to the next level. Both are under the thought that being the best known or the least known requires the same work! Your tasting room matters, your distillery tour matters, your SWAG matters and the brand impression matters.
The entire tasting room is more like a tasting experience and it sits amidst an 8 story “pint” glass. Gift shop aside, which BTW is 1000 square feet, this is total sensory overload filled with the full cycle of hop to glass to gullet to repeat. History to present time, a full timeline of the historical impact of what Guinness has meant to not only Ireland but the world as a whole. There was a movie room with all the commercials from the years, there was a Skydeck bar that looks over Dublin. The best and most long lasting memory will be the image of a machine that turns a photo or “selfie” into beer foam “head” for all the world to see.
As grandiose as Guinness was to the senses, Powerscourt was equally as impressive in an understated way. At my guestimate of $35M USD, this facility sits 40 minutes outside of Dublin on the grounds of the Powerscourt Estate. Having hosted kings and queens at the estate hotel, its reputation is intact as luxury personified. Ordained with wood paneling, dark hues and a serious undertone of sophistication and class. Barrel house, tasting room, onsite movie theater talking of the ground’s legacy all punch the visitor in the face with a sense of something special for all who make the trek.
While totally different in experiences they both have one thing figured out. A brand experience needs to me memorable, special and Instagram able. (I hate myself for typing that) but alas true. Brands need to spend on the items, experiences and events that cannot be directly tied to sales but can be tied and anchored to brand experience. Like social media likes, the takeaway cannot be measured for only in the abyss of doing and not doing- the not doing will resonate in slow sales while the doing is in sales at a better clip.
The US consumer is looking for something different. Often times brands win on the shelf because all the off-shelf effort that is put in.
- Creating demand before supply
- Tasting room, distillery and brewery experience
- Sponsorship of non-related but seemingly connected events to the brand.
What we “learned” in Ireland was not a new learning, but it was a total experience in the two different ways a brand can market themselves globally. Guinness has all the money on Earth / Powerscourt not as much, but both have managed to put together experiences that will be brought back to the end user in the forms of memories that out last the duration of the actual trip.
That is our goal, right? We are all wanting to be brands that pull off the shelf based on a non-discounting activity. We all want to be brands that sell from a share of mind that has somehow been carved based on some thought or memory. My Ireland trip very clearly showed the two sides of that exercise. Glad to be home, and glad to be back at the grind.
Three Tier Talk
by Brian Rosen, www.BevStrat.com
Brian Rosen is Former CEO of America’s #1 Retailer, Sam’s Wines in Chicago, Former Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Retail and sought after retailer consultant.
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