On Wednesday 27th January, we explored sensory experiences within the drinks industry with the help of Alan Dye of NB Studio and The Gin Journey's Leon Dalloway.
On Wednesday 27th January, we fell off the wagon with a Breakfast Briefing built around the world of drinks.
We were joined by Alan Dye, co-owner and creative director at NB Studio, which has developed creative branding and communications solutions for companies including Chivas Regal, Beefeater Gin and Aspall. Alongside him, Leon Dalloway of Gin Journey shared his experience of running a popular series of gin tours in London — and served up some Bloody Marys to start the morning off with a refreshing kick.
As we recently explored in a series of features ahead of the event, the drinks industry is constantly moving as it seeks to tickle the tastebuds of modern drinkers, with brands and businesses devising ever more innovative ways of engaging audiences and standing out in competitive categories.
Here’s what we learnt.
1. Tap into the zeitgeist
Conceiving of a gift packaging and campaign concept for Chivas 12, NB Studio took inspiration from the advent of the modern gentleman. Devising a strategy centred around the idea of 'modern craft', the studio drew on the then growing trend for mens’ style magazines and an increasing interest in menswear to create the brand’s “Made for Gentlemen” positioning.
Meanwhile, from his experience behind the bar and as a brand ambassador for a drinks brand, Leon developed not only a love of gin, but an understanding of the spirit’s rising popularity, especially with younger audiences. Gin has, for the first time, overtaken vodka as the UK’s leading white spirit, with a host of independent distilleries emerging across the country. Moreover, as consumers are becoming better informed, they are developing a greater interest in understanding the production processes, ingredients and stories behind the spirits they drink.
2. Collaboration is key
The Chivas strategy is centred on a series of collaborations, with NB Studio drawing inspiration from the shape of shoemaker Tim Little’s leather patterns, or the stitching and detailing of tailor Patrick Grant’s suits. These collaborations have cleverly helped align the whisky with other luxury brands across a range of industries.
Gin Journey relies on sponsorship, with bottles being gifted by brands who are keen for new audiences to learn more about their products, and whose gins Leon is happy to showcase as examples of well-made spirits with strong flavour profiles. The current tour in London highlights Sipsmith, Martin Millers and Beefeater gins, as well as a weekly guest gin. The rotating spirit selection affords Leon the opportunity to work with interesting new brands — often emerging independents who can’t afford to regularly give away bottles, but who are also looking to reach new people.
While gin will always take centre stage, Leon is also looking to incorporate new experiences into the Gin Journey. As he explained, a supper club called 'East meets West' is currently in the works, which will feature cocktails created from the best drinks east London has to offer, alongside food made from ingredients sourced from the West Country.
3. Strike a balance
Leon and Alan both agreed on the importance that the provenance of a product and the storytelling behind its brand plays. As Alan explained, Chivas follows the philosophy that you need to look backwards to move forwards, and the authenticity of gin brand Beefeater, which is still produced in London, is in part responsible for its popularity in Europe.
For Leon, a rich history, a great story or an interesting approach to the distillation process can often be just as important as a gin’s flavour profile when selecting a spirit to showcase as a guest gin.
Yet, despite the growing popularity of gin in particular, brands within both the whiskey and gin categories are often still associated with older audiences, struggling to appeal to new, more youthful demographics too.
So this desire to emphaise product provenance and brand heritage must often be made to work in tandem with more innovative, multisensory experiences that are designed to engage new audiences.
This tension also extends to bottle design and packaging, navigating a fine line between creating a design that is disruptive enough to stand out in a highly saturated category, yet without alienating core audiences — as Alan observed wryly, “it’s about being the same, but different.”
Location:Shoreditch House Library,
London, E1 6AW,
Start:27th January, 2016 at 9:30am
End:27th January, 2016 at 11:30am