Premium mixer 1642 packs a punch

The beverage brand promoted its tonic and ginger beer through a shopper marketing program in IGA stores across Quebec.

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Montreal-based 1642 is hoping its premium mixers pop with the kind of consumer who “drinks less, but drinks better,” according to the company’s founder and CEO, Bastien Poulain.

In December, the brand, named after the year the city of Montreal was founded, worked with agency Bob and IGA stores in Quebec on a shopper marketing and online campaign. The goal: to promote two 750 ml flavour formats, tonic and ginger via holiday punch recipes and drawing eyeballs at shelf through packaging.

The five-year-old brand, which also boasts a roster of cola, orange and yuzu (an Asian citrus) flavours, looked to capitalize on the popularity of punch during the holiday season, including four original recipe suggestions promoted on Facebook and Instagram through GIFs, videos and photos to drive in-store purchases.

1642 products were promoted in-store with a combination of danglers and collarettes with messaging to “magnify” the punch experience. When shoppers purchased the brand’s tonic water or ginger beer, they were also eligible to enter a draw for $1,000 worth of premium spirits.

The specially labelled 750 mL bottles were distributed exclusively at IGA (which Poulain says puts a focus on stocking local quality products) until December 31, when the contest closed. The brand’s products are distributed through 800 stores in Quebec, primarily in specialized independent retailers.

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According to the latest data from Mordor Intelligence, tonic water is a growing segment, with a CAGR of 6.5% predicted globally over the next three years. And since 2014, U.S.-based Google searches for ginger beverages have grown at around 30% year-over-year, based on Breakthru Beverage Group data.

Demand for 1642 reflects a consumer preference to drink less alcohol, but also to make their booze experience more premium, using artisinal ingredients, according to Poulain. He says the 1642 product line is made with natural ingredients, less sugar, as well as spring water and natural flavours. Poulain adds that when three-quarters of a gin and tonic is tonic water, it’s important to some consumers that it’s made from quality ingredients.

The product is premium, he says, because it’s made in Canada, without preservatives, and uses glass bottles, which makes it stand out from the more well-known Schweppes. (Schweppes and Canada Dry are the domestic market leaders, says Poulain, adding that U.K.-based Fever-Tree is a direct foreign competitor in the premium mixer space.)

1642 has a number of distillery partners and the brand has sought out Ontario gins and Quebec spirits that mesh well with its premium ethos. Poulain notes that while the gin market is exploding in Quebec, the brand is also looking to expand westward to tap into the premium market in Ontario.