Not surprisingly, the effects of COVID-19 continued to persist throughout last year, and will likely continue to change the alcohol beverage landscape for the foreseeable future. The most notable change to our industry has been a dramatic increase in online sales, both for wine and spirits. In fact, early this month (January 2022), a California legislature committee voted to permanently keep DTC (direct to consumer) spirits as the law in the state (SB 620: following Kentucky’s lead in 2020). This governmental change will also expedite the need for a powerful “virtual shelf” as well as the physical shelf for every brand. The ByQuest team has come up with three areas that a new brand, or a brand new to the digital space, should consider for success on the virtual shelf.

Packaging and Brand Statement for New Products

The brand look and packaging becomes so much more important as we move into a digital first, and potentially a digital only, brand discovery process. While you want to have a bottle that can stand out on the physical shelf from the options within your category, you also need a bottle that’s going to stand out as a consumer is scrolling on the virtual shelf looking for their next purchase. Do your products look good on an all-white background? What about your product is visually engaging, especially from the consumer’s screen which might be on a small cell phone? Bottle profile; bottle decoration; impactful stoppers and more.

Here is a gorgeous example by one of our ByQuest customers who took the time to create this image of a new premium rum called PARLOR CAY, a Sespe Creek Distillery brand in Southern California. This brand took the effort to select a new bottles profile, The “Torpedo”, part of the Vintage Forward bottle collection, and marry that to a super-premium label created by Chad Michaels Studio in Dallas, TX. They also took the time to create this digital asset using professional photography to create an amazing image. Ready to market in both the Real and Virtual marketplace.

Digital Placement

The next element to consider when evaluating your overall e-premise strategy is what your digital placement and category of digital assets look like. The first place to start is making sure that online retailers have the most up-to-date naming, package size, brand descriptions, photos, and other digital assets of your products. Sometimes a distributor will be able to help with supplying these assets to all of your retailers. Other times, you will want to connect with the retailers directly to make sure they have the most up-to-date digital resources.

Another consideration is where you fall on the digital shelf. If you’re a whiskey brand, how close can you get to Jack Daniels? Are there different promotional categories that an online retailer offers that would put you in the same area with the category leaders? The same way having a physical placement near Jack Daniels on the shelf can be helpful to an aspiring whiskey brand, so can a placement near the digital shelf as well.

Sales versus marketing opportunities

For many brands, thinking about digital strategy or e-premise opportunities are some of the last considerations that they have in their go to market strategy. It’s time to rethink this budgeting given the dynamic changes happening right now. Many brands believe they do not have the budget for any type of spend in the digital space. What this leads to is brands having over allocating funds to traditional marketing channels and traditional sales channels, and not recognizing that e-premise budgets actually address both sales and marketing purposes in the digital space.

Are you prepared for the digital changes coming to the industry? Do you need support with getting your brand prepped and ready for these changes? By first preparing your brand for success on the virtual shelf, making sure the brand has a strong placement on that shelf, and allocating the correct funds to this, any brand can take advantage of these changing times. Connect with our Brand Realization Consultants to learn more about the packaging and decoration options that ByQuest has available. Whether that’s looking at our Vintage Forward or Wildly Crafted® bottle collections, or creating an entirely custom bottle, our team is able to work with you to create packaging that engages consumers on the virtual shelf.

As always, keep unpacking.