Recently, I had the good fortune to be in possession of 70+ bottles of tequila. After posting the photographic evidence, I was asked, “so what do you do with all those bottles?” While a more sociable person would use the bounty to throw a party, I give away most bottles to my office-mates.
With very few exceptions, no, I don’t make the rounds giving specific bottles to specific people. Rather, I set them out and let everyone have at ’em. And it’s fascinating to see what flies off the shelf when price isn’t a factor. I thought this might be of particular interest to anyone involved in selling or marketing spirits brands.
Apparently, here’s what factors into the decision-making process:
1. Expert opinion. In other words, people get overwhelmed and ask me, “which one do you think is best?” They also ask one another, and consult their smartphones for online guides. “Expert” is relative.
2. Name recognition. Even if the spirit has a bad reputation, “I’ve heard of it” is a big draw.
3. Pretty pretty colors. Bold, eye catching bottles or labels fly off the shelf fast. Ditto for spirits with entertaining or salacious names or slogans on the bottles.
4. Expensive looking/gift-worthy appearance. Many people want to take bottles to parties. Luxe bottles trump cheap-looking ones.
And to a lesser degree:
5. Smell. Obviously, not a factor in stores with closed bottles. But given the opportunity, imbibers will pop the top and take a whiff – and if they don’t like the aroma, back it goes!
6. Recipes. If someone can’t figure out what to make with it, it stays on the shelf. Bottles with recipe booklets on the neck tend to walk away before those without.
Frankly, it drives me crazy that I can set out 10 bottles of tequila (or any other spirit category), and when I return later the best of the batch is the one left sitting all by its lonesome. The lesson? It kills me to say this, but sometimes it’s what’s on the outside that counts.
So to all you distillers out there, the message is clear: keep striving to make the best possible product you can, but if you want a wide range of drinkers to go out and buy your product, you’ll still need stellar design, marketing, and PR.