Spirits Business, 23rd June, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

The power of social media has never been so paramount as it has been during the pandemic. Here, SB recognises the best-performing spirits brands on social media and names the Social Media Hero from our Brand Champions 2020 report.

As social media has become an integral part of people’s daily lives, it has evolved into a powerful tool for marketers, with most companies having a digital presence in some shape or form. Many brands rely on social media platforms as their major communication channel to reach their target audiences.

The dynamic and competitive space provides brands in every industry with the perfect blank canvas to offer creative campaigns that can entice new consumers and maintain their existing follower base. For the global drinks sector, it allows alcohol brands to engage with customers on new products, communicate their key serves and tell their brand story in highly imaginative ways. However, while social media brings many benefits, the alcohol industry has the additional challenge of ensuring its marketing content is only seen by people who are of legal drinking age.

This important issue hasn’t gone unnoticed by the drinks sector. In 2012, the CEOs of 11 leading alcohol companies, including Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi, Beam Suntory and Brown‐Forman, banded together to create the not‐for‐profit International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD). This year, the IARD vowed to “accelerate efforts” to eliminate underage drinking globally with five actions.

As part of this move, the IARD committed to taking further action to prevent minors from seeing or interacting with their brands online. As a result, the IARD has pledged to implement safeguards for at least 95% of its online alcohol marketing by 2024, with the goal of reaching complete compliance at the earliest opportunity.

The new initiative followed the group’s promise to deliver better safeguarding measures for online alcohol advertising after partnering with four social media platforms in 2018.

Strategy shift

The alcohol sector was also dealt a new challenge when the Covid‐19 pandemic spread around the world, causing a large number of countries to enforce lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the disease. In turn, bars around the globe were shut and distilleries were required to close their visitor centres – key channels for the trade as they allow consumers to try new products and expand their brand knowledge.

Brands were forced to rethink their marketing strategies to encourage stay‐at‐home messages, while continuing to find new and interactive ways to connect with consumers virtually.

According to recent data from social media analytics platform Listen First, social engagement with alcohol brands has risen “far more” than other sectors during the Covid‐19 crisis. Listen First analysed 284 alcohol brands alongside 22 other brands, such as healthcare companies. The research showed that in March 2020, social engagement was up by 326.51% compared with March 2019.

It also noted that eight out of the 10 top‐performing posts by alcohol brands all addressed coronavirus in one way or another.

The Covid‐19 crisis really shone a light on the brands that were particularly active on social media in the wake of the pandemic. With less time devoted to the on‐trade, companies have really channelled their efforts into online consumer engagement. In addition to aesthetic cocktail imagery and timely posts, the other brands on our list were praised for increasing their entertainment offering through new video content, emoji quizzes and with live‐streamed tastings.

In our assessment of the social presence of the world’s million‐case spirits brands, we evaluated brands’ performances on what we believe to be the three most crucial social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. As image‐focused app Snapchat and Tik Tok, an emerging video‐sharing service, are geared towards younger consumers, we felt it would be more appropriate to focus on the three most‐used social media sites.

As part of the judging criteria, we looked at the number of likes, shares, comments, retweets and favourites, plus the frequency and creativity of posts with a focus on global accounts.

Click through the following pages to discover the top 10 spirits brands on social media.

The list has been compiled as part of The Spirits Business‘s Brand Champions report, which is available to view here. As such, it includes only brands that sell more than one million nine-litre cases annually.

These figures are based on research conducted by The Spirits Business in May 2020, and so the majority of brands included have most likely grown their followers and fans since.

Rémy Martin

Facebook fans: 2,539,276 | Twitter followers: 18,600 | Instagram followers: 49,200

Engagement 7 | Frequency 7 | Creativity 7 | Consistency 8 | Overall score 29

Rémy Martin maintained its brand identity across social media with beautiful lifestyle shots and cocktail recipes, and promoted pairing its Cognac with food.

During the pandemic, the brand also communicated the stay-at-home message through a number of videos and offered plenty of cocktail-making videos. On Facebook, the brand also live-streamed a Cognac tasting with its cellar master to ensure maximum engagement.

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