Liquor industry should exploit DM potential

The following column, which appears each issue, looks at new and emerging trends in direct marketing. Alternating columnists are Barbara Canning Brown, a leading figure in the Canadian direct marketing industry, and David Foley, a specialist in database marketing programs. Strategy...

The following column, which appears each issue, looks at new and emerging trends in direct marketing. Alternating columnists are Barbara Canning Brown, a leading figure in the Canadian direct marketing industry, and David Foley, a specialist in database marketing programs.

Strategy also invites other news items or column submissions for this section. Enquiries should be directed to Mark Smyka, editor, (416) 408-2300.

Some categories are naturals for database marketing programs and liquor is one of them.

Yet, as Steven MacKinnon of McCaffrey & McCall (agency for FBM Distillery) said recently: ‘The industry hasn’t really explored fully the area of direct.’

This may be the understatement of the year.

Admittedly, some specialty brands have ventured forth, successfully, with direct-to-user communications programs.

Jack Daniels offers its Tennessee Squire Club to ‘individuals who are known to favor jd,’ says MacKinnon although he adds the newsletter-based program is ‘not handled by marketing.’

Also, according to Dennis Stief of Ogilvy & Mather (agency for some Seagram brands), Mumm’s Champagne ‘has experimented with direct,’ although Stief says there are no current plans to use such methods for the mainstream brands that o&m handles.

This is truly curious.

Mainstream liquor brands (those with money) do not use direct/ database marketing techniques even though the effectiveness of same has already been proven by their poorer cousins.

In addition, the constraints placed on the scope of marketing activities by the various provincial liquor authorities strongly suggests that a one-on-one communications approach may be highly desirable for beverage alcohol, from a wide range of perspectives: cost-efficiency, responsible use and extended brand image immediately come to mind.

Cost-efficiency

By developing a customer/ prospect list for a specific brand, by refining and augmenting the information contained in this list over time, and by using the resultant knowledge as the basis for certain marketing decisions, the brand is better able to sell more product at a lower unit marketing cost.

For some brands, this process could start with recent contest entrants being used as the basis for a research and data-gathering program.

For others, respondents to a related offer or event (i