Boozy brands are using influencers to keep Gen Z customers

Crafting more personal connections is key to marketing to a new generation in the alcoholic beverage sector.
23 March 2020

Heineken is one such brand that has employed influencer tactics. Source: Shutterstock

“Mass personalization is definitely where [marketing] is going,” Influence Director of Ogilvy, Imogen Coles recently told the Drum

The marketing and advertising sector has come a long way from its early days of big billboards, TV commercials, and flyer distribution. Instead of running huge campaigns that aim to appeal to as many on-lookers and audiences as possible, brands are increasingly collaborating with influencers or key opinion leaders (KOLs) to lead their marketing strategies. 

Micro and macro influencers are now enlisted to help brands reach out to target markets in the form of communities. Accentuating factors of relevance and relatability through an influencer’s media presence and persona, brands stand a higher chance in striking a chord with consumers. 

The age-old alcohol beverage industry is well-versed in the changing face of advertising over the years, and yet, with new competitors entering each day – and consumer preferences changing often – its most successful players are fully aware of the need to chop and change their approaches.

Contributing up to US$328 billion in 2018, the alcohol beverage industry is big business, but faced with a growing Get Z consumer-base that consume less alcohol than previous generations, embracing new ways to connect with customers in this industry is crucial.

According to The NPD Group, Gen Zs are recognized as an individualistic cohort that embraces personalization in every aspect of daily life. This generation regards food choices and selections as an extension of self, whereby food is expected to be not only ‘Instagrammable’ but also a reflection of lifestyle and personal choice.

Beverages in context

Recognizing these shifting consumer behaviors and trends, especially in a mobile-first era, brands are keenly exploring the power of influencer engagement. 

Last year, Indian beer brewer Kingfisher ran an Instagram campaign that successfully drew engagement from more than 10 million consumers globally. The company enabled consumers to customize the product with their names and create GIFs to be shared on Instagram.

Meanwhile, Netherlands-based brewer Heineken partnered with a number of top men’s influencers, clothing designers and boutiques to create its own line of branded menswear. The campaign, called #Heineken100, helped enforce the beer brand’s cool, refined identity.


View this post on Instagram


@Cncpts x #Heineken100 on 💯 • #NorthofMAN @Heineken • @TeamEpiphany • #Menswear #Style #Presence •

A post shared by Eliezer Infante (@elisoul01) on

Research by OneSignal that analyzed the content of 118 million messages sent to consumers in the span of four weeks revealed that personalization drove 50 percent of greater engagement.

With that in mind, brands are turning to the help of influencers to ‘speak’ to consumers. New technologies are making marketing content accessible to a wide range of audiences and also making it incredibly easy for consumers to interact with their favorite influencers and brands.

However, the right dose of influencer campaigns and engagement is essential to keep consumers hooked. 

“We know that consumers are spending less time, but more concentrated and purposeful time on social media, so we need to make sure that we are creating content that actually engages and excite people,” Coles said.

Brands need to be selective in the choice of influencers and the kind of content they wish to roll out in the market. Content quality remains key in a market flooded with noise and proves to be a deciding factor in keeping consumers amused or annoyed.

A survey by Vamp echoed this reasoning and reported nearly half (43 percent) of marketers ranked quality of content as a primary factor in determining partnerships.

For the liquor industry, a different set of rules may apply to marketing approaches. As consumption limits and age restriction need to be considered, influencers and marketing teams need to tap this new avenue with caution and conservative creativity to ensure the right message gets sent across.