Branding For Liquor Stores

by

Jan 29, 2016

 

Branding transcends beyond a single logo, a single tagline, or a single sale to encompass a customer’s experience with your business in its entirety – at every touchpoint. It is that intangible X-factor that lifts a business above its competition.

Despite the benefits of building a powerful brand, small liquor store owners shy away from doing so because they believe:

Branding costs too much: Between the inventory cost, real estate price, and licensing fees, liquor stores are money-draining propositions with slim profit margins.  However, you don’t need deep pockets to reap the benefits of branding. You just need a dash of creativity and commitment.

Branding is frowned upon: Encouraging people to indulge in irresponsible behavior is wrong, but marketing your liquor store tastefully and responsibly will charm your customers and increase your revenue (Ex. Budweiser and puppies).

Branding is pointless: Why brand a small store when big retailers take up most of the market share, right?! Wrong. With over 40,000 liquor stores in the U.S., competition is fierce, so unless you stand out from the crowd, you are going to rely exclusively on unpredictable foot traffic to grow your business. Not the best idea.

The good news is there is always demand for liquor. Drinks are used to celebrate a variety of occasions, from Super Bowl parties to a quiet night at home.

Following are 5 tips to craft a positive brand identity for your liquor store to enjoy a constant influx of customers:

 

Position Your Brand

Understanding your intentions, motivations, and passions is the first step in crafting your brand identity:

What is your Unique Service Proposition (USP)?

Do you sell diverse merchandise? Are you renowned for your customer service? Do you hold the best tasting events in town?

What is it that you do the best or makes you unique?

This distinctive USP statement or brand positioning statement must be the linchpin for all your branding efforts.

Who is your target market?

If you don’t brand with your ideal audience in mind, you won’t stand out for anyone.

Comprehending your target market’s demographics, interests, lifestyle, and needs will lay the foundation for a meaningful and enduring brand.

What is your Mission and Vision?

Outlining your short and long-term goals anchors and directs your business, especially when things seem too overwhelming or confusing.

What is your essence?

Coca Cola epitomizes happiness. Red Bull epitomizes adventure. Starbucks epitomizes comforting elegance. What does your business epitomize?

Distill your personality down to a single essence – in preferably one or two words – and uphold it at every customer interaction.

 

Make Your Customers Feel at Home

Nobody wants to enter a store to find a grumpy cashier with a permanent frown.

Enliven your customers by greeting them with a genuine smile, offering generous advice, and assisting them in finding the best value. Walk the store aisles, answer their questions, and listen to their feedback.

Wine, beer, and spirits have flourished into complex niches of expertise. Often times, customers feel too embarrassed or awkward to ask for advice on liquor. By extending your knowledge to them first, you alleviate any hesitancy and make them feel at ease.

 

First Impressions Matter

Well-conceived and well-executed designs ‘unite’ your merchandise, showcase your personality, and speak to your target audience

Unfortunately, liquor store owners often hurt their brand image by paying little regard to the organization and presentation of their wares.

So here are some tips to clean up your store layout/design:

Space Out Merchandise: Narrow aisles and crammed shelves aren’t inviting to the eye or good for your business. You need to give your customers enough room to navigate and explore, so they can truly appreciate the breadth of your merchandise. If you are working with a small space, utilize smart design tips to make the space feel more open. Clean the floors and shelves regularly.

Balance Quantity with Quality: An eclectic mix of merchandise will energize your store’s design and displays. Balance the bestsellers with the newcomers; the classic drinks with the exciting twists; the common with the uncommon.

Label Your Wines: Group similar or complementary liquors, and use eye-catching custom labels to draw your customer’s attention. Such thoughtful embellishments will ease your customers’ experience and increase your profitability.

Creative Signage: Want to spotlight a particular wine, highlight your awesome discounts of the day, encourage people to follow you on social media, or promote a fun event? Place appealing signages around your store without distracting from the primary shopping.

Engage the Senses: The most immersive experiences engage most of our senses. Use flattering lights, soft music, and fresh scents in order to leave your customers with the best impression possible.

Add a Special ‘Complementary’ Section:. Complementary items, such as cheese, olives, breads, wine bags, wine glasses, lure impulse purchasers into increasing their basket value, especially if they are placed near the point of sale. Some liquor store owners sell cigarettes, pre-paid phone cards, and other convenience store items.

Dress Up Your Storefront: A well-designed window display is an extremely effective, yet inexpensive, tactic to attract customers to your store. If you are not the most artistic, enlist the help of friends or DIY design tutorials online.

 

Go Online

Although your primary source of profits is your brick-and-mortar store, establishing an online presence will pay off handsomely in the long-term.

Purchase a self-hosted domain and a feature-rich theme to control the structure, style and content of your site. Use your business’s name as your domain name. Sign up with an email marketing platform to connect and communicate with your subscribers.

Start – and regularly update – a blog, the primary component of your website.

Showcase your expertise, enhance your reputation, and enrich your customer relationships by sharing exciting, educational, and entertaining content – such as stories, events, and promotions – in a variety of formats (e.g. infographics, videos and E-books). Create an inventory catalog with high-quality visuals and enticing product descriptions.

Most importantly, listen to your customers and adapt your content to fit their tastes.

As you get more comfortable managing your website, you can also add an e-commerce component.

 

Marketing

Designing a beautiful store, revamping your inventory, and providing the best customer service will not matter if few people are aware that you exist.

Use diverse digital and offline marketing channels to get the word out:

Start a Loyalty Program

An uncomplicated loyalty program compels your consumers to return for more.

The rewards must be valuable and meaningful.

Store Events

Hold wine tasting, wine education, mixology sessions, and cooking events to get to know your clients better.

Institute a weekly wine sampling event to spotlight one or two of your best wines. Promote it across social media with a simple hashtag like #LiquorEventoftheWeek.  Such regular affairs will compel your consumers to come back for more.

For an added touch of ingenuity, stream these events live using a platform like Periscope or Meerkat.

Step Out

Get out of your store once in awhile by setting up booths at neighborhood events. Take your brochure, business cards, and a case of bestselling wines with you.

Earn the trust of your community members by supporting them, championing them, and blending with them. Forge new relationships with forcing your business upon anyone.

Build B2B Relationships

Form mutually-beneficial partnerships with local bars, wedding venues, restaurants and any other establishment that might require a steady supply of alcohol.

Shed the ‘smarmy salesman’ garb and become an attentive and approachable business owner to win their trust. Bulk discounts and free trial offers sweeten the deal.

Sales Promotions

Offer exclusive deals and discounts on your most popular marketing channels.  Improve inventory turnover using bundled discounts, paired discounts, upsells, and cross-sells.

Time your discounts with seasonal celebrations for maximum impact.

Advertising

As a small business owner, you might not have the budget for expensive advertising channels.

But you could still take advantage of low-cost ad channels, such as Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and Twitter Cards to grow your business cost-effectively.

Social Media

Alcohol marketing is regulated on social media.

Err on the side of caution by refraining yourself from selling on these networks. Instead, use social media to connect with ‘industry influencers’ and interact with your customers.

Share behind-the-scenes photos, entertaining stories, seasonal recipes, event information, and other amusing trivia. Respond to their comments, concerns, and challenges.

 

Prioritize Customers Over Profits:

High costs, mounting competition, and scattered demand have led to low profit margins for liquor stores.

Avoid a slump in your business by fashioning an influential brand that is real and responsive.

Don’t leave your success to chance. Evolve your business by creating a strong and sustainable brand identity.