How The Brands You Stock Connect With Consumers

Photo: Andy England

So many alcohol brands, and so little shelf space. How is a brand to break through the clutter, grab the consumer and make a connection? Natasha Swords, Bonfort’s Editor in Chief reports.

From a retailer point of view, it’s important to understand the overall process of brand marketing. Next time a big brand asks you for more space behind the bar, or better positioning near the cash register, why don’t you ask them…what are you doing to support sales? Put forward the question “If I put your brand on the shelf, what will you do to pull the bottle off?”  Here’s a quick Bonfort’s primer on what you should know.

Andy England is Chief Executive Officer and Director of National CineMedia. From 2010 to 2015, England served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of MillerCoors. In that role he was also Chairman of the Strategy Committee and Co-Chair of the Operating Committee, and led strategic development and managed the Company’s marketing, strategy and planning functions. To whom better could we pose our questions?

BONFORT’S: Where do alcohol brands spend most of their advertising dollars?

ANDY: Alcohol brands typically spend strongly behind screen advertising, on-premise sampling and activities, sponsorships, and point of sale. Because the new generation of legal drinking age consumers are digital natives who grew up online, ad spending is ramping up in social, mobile and digital video as well.

BONFORT’S: Which of these methods is proven to provide the best ROI?

ANDY: It can be difficult to read the impact of some ad spending because sales data from certain channels of trade is sparse.  However, the spirit industry’s successful investment in screen advertising is hard to ignore.

BONFORT’S: In order of least effective to most effective, can you list the ways that alcohol brands promote themselves?

ANDY: When it comes to building brands, screen advertising has historically been the largest share of spend because it offers the biggest impact. There’s no doubt that on-premise trial is important, and sponsorships also provide the opportunity for sampling at some of the most aspirational events. With the growth of alcohol distribution in cinemas, the opportunity to both advertise on the big screen and have a drink in the consumer’s hand while they’re watching that ad is very powerful.

BONFORT’S: Are there different results for different types of alcohol, such as wine vs. spirits vs. beer?

ANDY: Wine typically has a low advertising spend and is a low margin business with low brand loyalty. However, beer and spirits both command high brand loyalty, resulting from historically aggressive advertising spend. Consumer brand recognition is extremely important in these categories to drive sales.

BONFORT’S: What are significant changes in the methods in which alcohol brands reach consumers?

ANDY: The growth of digital marketing is easily the biggest change for alcohol brands.
Many younger LDA consumers are light TV viewers and “cord-cutters,” meaning they are not watching the traditional TV and sports programming that alcohol brands had relied heavily upon to reach older generations.

Also, women 21-49 have become very important influencers for the category, and most of them are not watching sports. The big challenge is to find new ways to reach a younger target audience while still doing it on a mass scale. Cinemas are increasingly a great innovative marketing opportunity because of the expansion of bars in movie theater lobbies and dine-in theaters. Today, in-theater alcohol sales now total $100 billion and are up 20% since 2012.

BONFORT’S: Where do you see the future of alcohol brand advertisement?

ANDY: I believe that the opportunity to advertise in entertainment venues that serve alcoholic brands – be they sports stadiums, bars or cinemas – will continue to be the core driver of brand loyalty because you’re connecting with consumers through a passion point.

More About Andy England

Andy England is Chief Executive Officer and Director of National CineMedia, America’s Movie Network. As the #1 Millennial weekend network in the U.S., NCM is the connector between brands and movie audiences. According to Nielsen, more than 700 million moviegoers annually attend theaters that are currently under contract to present NCM’s Noovie pre-show in 54 leading national and regional theater circuits including AMC, Cinemark, and Regal Entertainment Group. NCM’s cinema advertising network offers broad reach and unparalleled audience engagement with over 20,800 screens in over 1,650 theaters in 187 Designated Market Areas® (all of the top 50). NCM Digital goes beyond the big screen, extending in-theater campaigns into online and mobile marketing programs to reach entertainment audiences. National CineMedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: NCMI) owns a 48.8% interest in, and is the managing member of, National CineMedia, LLC. For more information, visit

From 2010 to 2015, England served as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of MillerCoors, LLC. As Chairman of the Strategy Committee and Co-Chair of the Operating Committee, he led strategic development and managed the Company’s marketing, strategy and planning functions. He built digital and entertainment marketing capabilities for the Company that led to multiple new platforms through partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo!, Yelp, Twentieth Century Fox, etc. He also delivered critical new sponsorship deals with multiple colleges and sports teams across the NFL, MLB, NBA, MLS and NHL.

From 2008 to 2010, England served as the first Chief Marketing Officer of the newly formed MillerCoors. He was responsible for the profitable growth of the business, which he delivered through growing the Company’s share in the beer category, creating a new marketing department and substantially over-delivering planned marketing synergies.

Prior to joining MillerCoors, England served as Chief Marketing Officer of Coors Brewing Company from 2006 to 2008, a $2.7 billion revenue division of Molson Coors Brewing Company. In this role, he delivered successive best years ever for Coors Light, drove double-digit volume growth for Keystone Light, and quadrupled the size of the Blue Moon franchise.

Do Alcohol Brands Waste Spending on Sports Adverts?

In a recent study by Nielsen, female moviegoers aged 21-49 (classified as those who saw 1 movie per month) reported they had not seen the below sporting events in the past year:

  • NCAA College Football (Playoffs): 96%
  • NCAA College Football (Bowl Games): 96%
  • NHL (Regular Season & Playoffs): 95%
  • NCAA Final Four: 93%
  • World Series: 90%
  • PGA Finals: 88%
  • NBA (Regular Season): 86%
  • NBA Playoffs: 85%
  • NFL Playoffs: 77%
  • NFL (Regular Season): 72%
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Natasha Swords

Natasha Swords is an accomplished editor and writer with 20+ years of creative composition, reporting and management. She hails from Dublin Ireland where she held the position of Editor at Jemma Publications. Natasha honed her editorial skills by delivering engaging content on a wide range of topics, before finally focusing on the alcohol beverage and cannabis industries. She is Editor-in-Chief at Bonfort’s Wine and Spirits Journal as well as Drink me Magazine, where she leads all editorial content from story-idea generation to commissioning freelance writers and photographers. She also heads up CannEpoch, a lifestyle publication for the newly cannabis curious. In 2018, Natasha launched Bonfort’s Wine and Spirits Journal from inception, as well as the Bonfort’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a top-tier industry event connecting leading brands with key buyers. Steeped in the alcohol industry media, she was previously editor of Off-License Magazine, California Beverage News and Patterson’s California Beverage Journal (now Tasting Panel Magazine), and ran corporate communications for a number of alcohol supplier companies including TGIC (now Guarachi Wine Partners) and distributor, TITAN Wine and Spirits.

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