Guest blog: Radical new drinks propositions for millennials
A perspective from Mark Geary, Director of Super Premium, Edrington.
“Timberwolf and Relativity are the first brands to be unveiled from Brain Brew Distilling – our collaboration with world-class innovation facility, Eureka! Ranch, to create radical new drinks propositions for millennials.
For me, targeting this lucrative audience is forcing a complete overhaul in the way companies like Edrington are innovating and incubating new brands. In the words of Eureka! Founder, Doug Hall, we’re setting out to deliver “cool shit that matters.”
The fundamental premise is that the most successful brands manage to combine the two elements: Being cool (social desirability and emotional benefit) with Shit that matters (functional superiority for individuals). They are more Meaningful Unique and grow bigger, faster, often priced at a premium to competitors and are less easy to substitute with another brand.
The strongest brands successfully communicate what they deliver for the consumer at an emotional, human level and what they can do better functionally than any other brand in the category. This message is joined up, not separate. Brands validate and reinforce their ‘total proposition’ through their behaviour, how they say things and how they perform. There were lots of portable cameras around 5 years ago, for example, but GoPro beat the competition. It tapped into a human need, a Why – ‘Be a hero’ – and evidenced it with a great product and brand behaviour.
Consumers must be able to grasp this total proposition within a matter of seconds with both head and heart. When successful, they allow people to feel part of the desirable brand world and tribe, and the product fits into their lives in appropriate occasions better than alternatives. This is particularly true when considering younger consumers who are seeking to develop and communicate self-image.
Watches, clothes, phones, headphones, jewellery, make-up, beer and spirits are strong examples of socially-driven categories amongst Millennials. Coolness is key. Standing out and being unique is vital. Superior functionality is important but not a primary driver. We know from tracking data that stronger drivers of brand choice are statements such as ‘for people like me’, with ‘a better product’ important, but not a driver. Blackberry was a great business tool but never cool. Along came the iPhone – cool and with better functionality… the rest is history.
Coolness isn’t easy to define but people recognise it when it exists. It generally links to words such as ‘confident’ and ‘popular’. Cool brands help define membership of a tribe; a social group. They demonstrate that an individual holds similar values and beliefs to others, and importantly different to many (with younger consumers, often different to previous generations).
At the heart of coolness is social desirability – the ability of an object or brand to convey social desirability on the user amongst a group of other people they want to be associate with (‘impress’). Behind social desirability is the emotional message or purpose a brand has. A brand’s ability to stand for something linked to a core consumer or human need that sits outside of an individual product category: rebellion, success, knowledge, masculinity… Coolness is not a rational, highly internalised decision; it is externally motivated (although consumers will still try to rationalise it, if asked in research). Word of mouth is critical, as is visual usage by peers in physical, digital or traditional media.
Breakthroughs happen when new brands manage to build in functional difference in a category that has very little, and critically, communicate this in a way which is cool to the target market. Or conversely, add emotional values and coolness to a category that has none. Cool brands creatively combine human need, brand purpose and product delivery: GoPro’s ‘Be a Hero’, Air BnB’s ‘Belong Anywhere’ and Ray Bans’ ‘Never Hide’ to name but a few.
This type of thinking is guiding the Brain Brew strategy, but we’re still very much in the process of defining who we are, what we say and how we look, talk and act with Timberwolf and Relativity. And that’s ok. It’s all part of the process of unlocking something great.”