How brands have turned spirits into the ultimate luxury item

From celebrity endorsements to clever branding, we examine the marketing tactics used to transform alcoholic beverages into the ultimate luxury item

In recent years, the number of distillery businesses cropping up around the UK has soared as the demand for craft spirits and artisanal drinks brands has increased. It reflects a keen market for unusual flavour combinations and drinks made from local ingredients, resulting in more and more boutique businesses entering the world of spirits.

But how exactly have these brands marketed themselves as luxury to stand out in an already saturated market? From celebrity endorsements to clever branding, here are the marketing tactics used to transform alcoholic beverages into the ultimate luxury item.

Star ingredients

Today, consumers are discerning - they want to know what’s in the food and drink they consume, and ideally they want it to be local, organic and healthful. Setting a product apart from others with the inclusion of high-quality ingredients is a marketing tactic that’s worked for a number of high-end luxury beverages, such as Forest Gin. They’re a small-batch company that uses organic grain spirit infused with botanicals foraged from the Macclesfield Forest, such as bilberries, gorse flowers and local moss.

Luxury brands understand that customers will be enticed by the mention of unique and exotic-sounding ingredients, even more so if those ingredients are good for them, so highlighting these in their drinks is a sure-fire way to add a bespoke edge to any product. What sets a luxury item apart is being able to enjoy something new and exciting, and in the world of spirits, that means elaborate ingredients and a taste of something unusual and intriguing.

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Striking packaging

Printed packaging can make or break a business, and for luxury drinks brands, it’s a true selling point that needs to capture the attention of a customer. In fact, label provider Fast Labels indicates that 65% of customers have tried a new product simply because they were attracted to the packaging, and 68% of the time, a redesign of a product’s label leads to an uplift in brand perception.

In a market as competitive as spirits, having creative packaging that stands out on the shelves could make a huge difference to how a brand is perceived and the likelihood of making a sale. This is something that Wessex Gin understands and has played up to, with jewel-toned glass bottles adorned with cork tops and a diecast replica of an Anglo Saxon coin to pay homage to the history of the brand.

The product looks beautiful and entices the consumer before they’ve even had a chance to sample the gin inside. And for brands of extravagant products, this has long been the key - crafting something that looks indulgent and expensive, that customers want sitting on their shelves, whether at home or when running a business of their own.

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Social proof

In today’s digital world, imagery, video content and real-person reviews speak volumes. Consumers look to social media for recommendations and reviews of products, and it’s an area where so much of a brand’s marketing now takes place. Social proof accounts for a lot of a brand’s reputation and where they’re placed in terms of the luxury spectrum.

Celebrity endorsements are one way that brands can position themselves as luxury, and the perception of that individual also plays a role. A reality TV star may not have the same prestige as a Hollywood A-lister, and brands need to carefully consider who they choose to endorse their product as it’s the key to luxury marketing and ensuring that the brand stands out for the right reasons.

Having the backing of a celebrity who’s well-regarded evokes similar feelings towards a brand, creating the illusion that the brand is one that customers can trust. Consider David Beckham’s own luxury whiskey line, Haig Club. While Beckham owns the company, he also plays a starring role in the advertisements for the product and it’s this that consumers remember when they see the bottle on the shelves, instantly making a positive connection.

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Key takeaways

Spirits have become the item to invest in in recent years, whether it’s celebrities starting their own lines, endorsing products already on the market or business owners starting their own distilleries and artisanal brands. For those passionate about high-quality alcohol, being able to invest time, money and creative energy into putting their own boutique brand on the shelves is an exciting prospect.

There’s an allure to the drinks industry, with all the challenges and charm that it comes with, that makes creating luxury products within this sector worthwhile. From paying close attention to the packaging of the product to making sure it’s backed by reputable people and marketing the beverage as something unique, business-savvy brands have taken a luxury approach to their marketing, with great success.

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