The Bev-Alc Trends to Know in 2023

Erin Strong | April 27, 2023

Staying on top of Beverage Alcohol industry trends is essential to driving local marketing results.

That’s why I went to Orlando to attend WSWA Access LIVE.

WSWA Access LIVE was packed with valuable insights (and a fantastic concert by Nelly!). Here are the top Bev-Alc trends and key takeaways you need to know.

Top Bev-Alc Trends in 2023

Celebrity-branded spirits are a hot commodity this year, and several are looking for distribution deals. Jason Momoa (best known for playing Aquaman and Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones) launched a new vodka brand called Meili.

In addition to Mr. Momoa, Chef Robert Irvine, Nelly, and Guy Fieri were at the conference to peddle their new liquor products. While this trend seems to like it will continue in years to come, we do see a tightening of brand alignment between celebrities and their beverage of choice.

For example, a recent viral TikTok showed the two Breaking Bad stars doing a live tasting at a Costco for their new mezcal. The smoky liquor associated with nighttime and darkness is a great pairing for their Breaking Bad brand.

In the session, Marketing Utilization vs. Efficacy, I shared with the audience that one of the 2023 Bev-Alc trends is intentional spending.

That means focusing budgets on proven tactics that work (like paid search, SEO, location data management, paid social, and organic social), and skipping the here-today-gone-tomorrow tactics like the Metaverse unless you have budget to spare!

For the Bev-Alc industry, networking is still highly impactful and relevant! Other industries might still be in Covid mode, skipping events and foregoing real-life opportunities, but this industry knows the power of in-person connectivity.

People at WSWA have long-standing relationships that mean a lot when trying to close a distribution deal or set up a new business relationship, so attendees should expect to go several times before feeling like part of the “in” crowd.

These key takeaways echoed throughout sessions from leaders across distributors and suppliers:

Key Takeaways for Marketers

  • Digital drives ROAS. We know marketers love old-school traditional tactics that provide instant gratification, like an in-person verbal commitment or a handshake. But when you take into consideration the full opportunity cost, digital media is proving more effective at the niche hyperlocal targeting necessary to sell lifestyle brands that appeal to very specific consumer sub-sets.
  • TikTok is taboo. Other industries are ready to dive into TikTok and deal with the geopolitical ramifications and investing in an uncertain future, but TikTok isn’t a 2023 trend in Bev-Alc! Audience verification to ensure only 21+ audiences consume content is a primary concern, but regulatory compliance at a local, regional, state and federal level is another top concern that has to be addressed first.
  • AI is taking a slower approach. Unlike other industries that seem a-buzz with tales of how AI is being leveraged today, Bev-Alc seems to be taking a slower approach and focusing on what’s already working in traditional and digital media. Once trained, the tool could be utilized for regulatory fact checking and testing, but it wasn’t a 2023 trend for Bev-Alc!
  • Hyperlocal drives sales. At the Women’s Leadership Council reception, budding brands were in awe of the power of hyperlocal, device-level targeting capabilities to ensure regulatory compliance in marketing as well as intentional spending. For those brands that don’t want to waste money splashing their product across DMAs, this is a powerful option to drive high ROAS (return on ad spend).
  • Digital transformation through data. Several brand speakers talked about connecting data across tiers and APIs to ensure clear, usable insights. However, in a world where APIs break or change overnight across platforms, this can take focus and dedication at the distributor, supplier, and platform level!

For our partners in the beverage and alcohol space, it seems like 2023 has more to do with doubling down on established relationships and networks, as well as marketing tactics. Digital innovation and AI may have to wait for 2024 when brands are more comfortable experimenting.

If you’d like to connect with a marketing strategist to talk about 2023 top trends in Bev-Alc, reach out to BrandMuscle!

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