Kahlúa Gets in the Multichannel Spirit

When it comes to the point of purchase, CPG brands can feel like they’re in a long-distance relationship with their consumers. Although shoppers seem distanced and detached, CPGs yearn for an intimate connection. To ensure that the relationship endures, CPGs have to offer consumers value both on and off the shelf throughout the entire purchase process.

Liqueur brand Kahlúa did just that it in its “Taste the Spirit of the Holidays” campaign by helping target shoppers prepare for their holiday festivities. The coffee-and-rum spirit leveraged in-store and digital touchpoints to better understand and engage shoppers all the way to register.

“Having access to that consumer throughout the shopper journey creates a more intimate relationship between Kahlúa, or any Pernod Ricard brand, and the shopper,” says Tim Murphy, VP of digital and media for parent company Pernod Ricard USA. “It helps us understand more deeply what content, assets, or values are going to drive consumers through to purchase.”

One of the campaign’s key digital ingredients was the Kahlúa Pinterest sweepstakes. To illustrate the versatility of its products, Kahlúa promoted eight cocktail recipes and eight baking recipes through interactive advertisements. The ads were hosted on the brand’s partner sites, such as Allrecipes.com, and pushed consumers through to the sweepstakes. Participants then had to pin six Kahlúa-inspired recipes, cocktails, or gifts to their Pinterest boards. In addition to pinning the recipes featured in the ads, consumers could pin their own inspirations. Kahlúa even asked bloggers to create their own recipes and videos to generate more “pinspiration.” The winner of the sweepstakes received $5,000 for their holiday party preparations. The contest ran from mid November to mid-December and was also pushed out through the brand’s Facebook page and a campaign landing page.

After partnering with Curalate to analyze the sweepstakes performance, Kahlúa determined that more than 8,000 people entered the contest. These participants generated more than 10,400 pins and 1.4 million impressions. Kahlúa also acquired more than 3,800 Pinterest followers during the 35-day campaign—a 1,432% increase from its 267 follower count before the campaign—and more than 16,000 entrant emails.

But the sweepstakes wasn’t the only way Kahlúa helped customers tackle their party preparations. The brand also pushed out recipe banner ads to party hosts who sent invitations via online invitation company Evite. And to make sure that guests didn’t show up without a gift, Kahlúa sent banner ads containing liqueur coupons to invitation recipients. Kerri Owen, brand manager of liqueurs for Pernod Ricard USA, says that ads containing a recipe–such as those featured on Evites–saw response rates that were 3.5 times greater than Kahlúa’s standard media ads.

“We knew that we had to put recipes, coupons, and a great sweepstakes all at [shoppers’] fingertips,” she says. “There were several different tactics and sites that we knew [prospective customers] were using to find them so that when they showed up at the point of purchase, they already knew what they were going to buy.”

However, if Kahlúa wanted to get as close to the point of purchase as possible, it had to target consumers while they were in-store. So Kahlúa also sent consumers mobile coupons to retailer shoppers via mobile ad network Jumptap (now Millennial Media). The brand also hosted cocktail and dessert tastings in-store and handed out recipe cards.

And to reward its customers for shopping in-store, Kahlúa teamed up with mobile shopping app Shopkick. Consumers could use the app to scan in-store items to earn points. Once they earned a certain amount of points, they could cash in their points for products. After consumers scanned one of Kahlúa’s product, the brand distributed a short survey asking shoppers if they actually purchased the product.

And while every brand craves consumer engagement, Murphy says that it’s important to not lose sight of the end goal: a purchase.

“It’s all about driving that purchase,” he says. “One of the challenges that we all have as marketers is that we talk in terms of likes, shares, retweets, tweets, followers, and so on. But if you can’t convert that engagement into a purchase, then you have to wonder if you’re doing the right things.”

Murphy says that the percentage of consumers who said that they did make a purchase after scanning an item “over-indexed Shopkick’s benchmarks.”

And the app doesn’t just benefit consumers. It benefits brands, as well. Brands can use the app to serve out messages to its in-store consumers. For example, Kahlúa sent its customers mobile look-books featuring different Kahlúa-inspired cocktail, gifting, and baking ideas.

Owen says providing digital utility allowed Kahlúa to adjust its advertising on the fly. For instance, after learning that the brand’s Jumptap coupon downloads didn’t perform as well as the brand’s recipe interactions, Kahlúa shifted its game strategy and added more recipe content. Murphy points out that the best way to determine what works for a brand is to just give it a go. “Just try it,” he says “If it works, scale it up. If it doesn’t, move on.”

Based on the success of its efforts so far, Owen says, Kahlúa plans on continuing to interact with shoppers across channels in other key spirit seasons.

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