Posted onOctober 7, 2014
Social Interactions Online and Off Promote Constellation Wines
AN INTERVIEW WITH: Karena Breslin, Director of Digital Marketing, Constellation Brands
August 03, 2012
Karena Breslin is director of digital marketing at Constellation Brands, a $2.6 billion company with a portfolio of more than 100 wines, beers and spirits. Breslin talked about how Constellation is using online and mobile platforms to position its brands.
Question: Why is digital media a good complement to the beverage alcohol segment and how does it play off of the category’s social nature?
Karena Breslin: Our mission is to build brands that people love.
Digital media is a way to bring that mission to life. People talk about wine because it’s social by nature. They enjoy conversations about wine and post pictures of the wine they’re tasting. It’s partly the nature of this product that lets it be as successful as it is in the social media environment. On average, we see 56 social media posts mentioning the word wine every minute. When you think about that volume, it makes sense that we’re [in social media], where the consumer is talking about their experiences with our products.
Question: When did Constellation start using digital media?
Breslin: Probably around 2000, when we began developing brand web sites. We added online display advertising five or six years ago. All of this has grown over the past 12 years. As an organization, we’re always looking at our marketing mix and where investment should lie for each brand. Over time, the transition has moved from traditional media to more investment in the digital space.
Question: What types of sites do you use to promote your wines?
Breslin: Today, we do a lot with social media, although not with all our brands. We began doing this three to four years ago. Now, we have 22 Facebook brand pages, 12 Twitter accounts, 13 YouTube channels, four Pinterest accounts, a Tumblr account and two Instagram accounts for various brands. We also advertise on food and lifestyle sites when appropriate.
Question: How do you decide which sites to use with which brands and how do they impart the brand message?
“With our more premium brands, consumers are likely to engage in conversation when we talk about things that are happening in our vineyards. They enjoy the dialogue.”
Breslin: As we build our media plan with each brand, we look at the consumer demographics of every site. We also examine which targeting options are available to ensure we’re reaching the right consumer. And, we have to take into account the creative and placement options.
We often use advertising to introduce new products, programs and special events. The live events are opportunities for consumers to taste our wines. For example, we participate in beer festivals where people can taste Toasted Head. Toasted Head aligns itself with the world of craft beer [because the barrel heads and staves used in its
production are toasted, giving the wine a unique flavor].
With events, we often geotarget social media posts. If an event is in New York, we wouldn’t want to send an announcement to people in California. We are also exploring and testing digital coupons.
Question: Which brands lend themselves well to digital media and how do you engage the consumer?
Breslin: On the wine side, each brand has its own unique positioning.
When you look at luxury brands, you’ll notice the conversations and the ways we engage consumers are quite different than with brands that are at lower price points. It’s really the positioning of the brand and how the brand and consumers want to communicate that drives the tone and content of the conversation.
With luxury brands, the conversations and the way we engage consumers are different than with brands at lower prices. Our Kim Crawford label, for example, is focused on luxury elements. Right now, conversations are focused around a new campaign we have called “Undo Ordinary.” We’re asking consumers to step out of their everyday experiences and try something new. Undo Ordinary is running in print, at point of sale and on social media via Facebook and Twitter.
With our more premium brands, consumers are likely to engage in conversation when we talk about things that are happening in our vineyards. They enjoy the dialogue. They also enjoy conversations associated with the brand’s positioning. Recipes and food pairings are a natural fit. We also discuss current events. We try to keep the dialogue open.
Question: What is your strategy with lower-priced wine brands?
Breslin: With our Rex Goliath label, we are more focused on the “fun” elements of the brand [the brand mascot, a giant rooster, frequently attends events]. We take that element into the wine conversation. It’s not perceived as having the same level of luxury as Kim Crawford because the brand positioning is very different. It’s important that we
communicate the brand positioning throughout the tone of our social media and across all forms of marketing.
Question: How do you tie your brands to sports and pop culture?
This varies by brand. For example, we have Paul Masson Grande Amber brandy that has a presence on Facebook and conversations are often tied to current events and sports. We get strong reactions from consumers with this approach. We also have a campaign for our Black Box [boxed] wine brand that is tied to the Olympics. The campaign is all about quality and award-winning wines that are half the price of comparable bottled wines.
“With millennials, we identified a gap between their inherently social nature and their conversations about wine. This gave us the opportunity to have a more interesting and engaging conversation.”
We are actively promoting our premium import wines at Lollapalooza [a Chicago music festival] this summer, including Ruffino from Italy, Diseno from Argentina, blüfeld from Germany, Mouton Cadet from France, Rioja Vega from Spain and Nobilo from New Zealand. The onsite promotional activity is shared on Facebook with our fan base worldwide.
Question: How do you use your brands and digital initiatives to reach specific consumer demographics, say, millennials versus baby boomers?
Breslin: We always start by understanding the consumer for every brand and then identify which avenue we’re going to pursue. Once we understand, say, a millennial consumer versus an older demographic, we evaluate the types of activities they engage in and relate that to what the brand needs to accomplish. Then we decide which technologies or tactics to use.
With millennials, we identified a gap between their inherently social nature and their conversations about wine. This gave us the opportunity to have a more interesting and engaging conversation.
We then created Pass the Bottle, a social pair-and-share wine application that works through Facebook. It understands your relationship with your friends and then pairs wines that share those personalities. We are promoting Pass the Bottle at Lollapalooza, so our sites promote the wines and the wines promote the application. It brings forth a lighthearted, fun and engaging way to interact with our wine brands.
With baby boomers, we may still pursue digital if it is deemed appropriate. But the platforms may be different for brands whose base is boomers. Boomers have interests that run the spectrum, with many active users engaged in Facebook.
Question: How do your digital platforms fit in with/complement your traditional advertising and promotions?
Breslin: It’s definitely a very collaborative effort. Kim Crawford’s Undo Ordinary campaign is communicated not only in the context of social media, but is also present in print campaigns, events, POS and onpremise.
That integrated marketing execution is really important to ensure we get the greatest impact from our investment.
Question: Have you done any programs that are specific to mobile?
Breslin: We partnered with a third-party mobile application called Hello Vino, which is a consumer wine app for iPhone and Android. The app assists shoppers when they’re making purchase decisions about wine.
For example, they can look for wine that pairs well with roasted chicken. We can then work with Hello Vino to embed sponsored advertising placements within the application. Hello Vino has had over 815,000 downloads and we’ve seen click through rates averaging 7.5%, which can be almost 100 times more than we see from other forms of media.
“With over 1.3 million Facebook fans across our portfolio, we’ve discovered that, on average, 36% have increased their purchasing of our brands.”
Question: How do you measure your success, specifically the impact on off- and on-premise sales?
Breslin: Facebook is the best example of how we can measure impact on retail sales. Through consumer research, we can evaluate changes in behavior. With over 1.3 million Facebook fans across our portfolio, we’ve discovered that, on average, 36% have increased their purchasing of our brands.
We were also able to derive that Facebook fans have accounted for incremental retail/on-premise brand revenue of an estimated $16.1 million over the past 12 months. This keeps growing. Therefore, we’ve learned how we can best invest our dollars and how we can equate these efforts to retail sales. This is very important when you’re working at a multi-branded company our size.
Much of our advertising is driving to Facebook. With Arbor Mist alone, we have over 500,000 fans. Our Facebook consumers represent highly engaged and loyal brand communities. Facebook enables us to interact with them longer than we can on Twitter, for example, which is more about them sharing their experience in real time. Beyond simply reaching these consumers, however, over 91% of our fans are actively recommending our brands to their peers. This is a key driver behind wine purchase decisions. Worldwide, we have 22 wine and spirits brands on Facebook.
Question: How do you keep consumers coming back to your sites and social media pages?
Breslin: We keep the content interesting and look at the data each month. We must make sure we’re always focused on bidirectional conversation and that we’re pulling consumers in to engage with each post. We incorporate some topical posts into the fold, such as current events. When you walk into a room at a networking conference, it’s
natural to meet somebody and converse back and forth and ask questions. But if you just said, “Buy our wine, buy our wine,” the conversation wouldn’t last very long. The same is true in social media.