Constellation Pours Geo-Push And App Partnerships To Serve Clearer Wine Choices

Most retail consumer food and drink choices are fairly straightforward and fast. Consumers bring loyalties to the selection, some deal consideration, and then manage a limited range of options on the shelf anyway. Wine is a whole other category. Unless you are that rare aficionado, or the multiple more who pretend to be, even the most modest of wine shops is a daunting clutter of unfamiliar brands layered upon foreign languages (always French) and a descriptive nomenclature that I suspect is just making up adjectives at this point. Chris Fehrnstrom knows the pain, because he has to marketing into it.

“It is a very fragmented category, with relatively low loyalty levels,” says the CMO of Constellation Brands, including Robert Mondavi Wineries, Mark West, Ruffino and Clos du Bois (see, I told you there would be French). “Lots of consumers are overwhelmed by the purchase decision.” And those who aren’t tend to have nine to twelve brands they are loyal to.

The way in and the way through this unique consumer context is mobile. In a company survey they found that wine consumers are 45% more likely than average to use their devices than average, and they also generally consume more digital media. That is why generally Constellation has already carved 25% of its total marketing budget for digital, up 200% from just four years ago.

The mobile piece is especially important because Fehrnstrom feels that given the consumer dynamics around the confusing purchase decision, “we have really tried to focus on how do we get to the consumer when they are in that mode, in-store or about to go to the store."

So the company been doubling down on mobile for a while now but is not at all interested in the Constellation brand or even individual wine brands having a discrete mobile presence. Instead, their tactic is to make sure the brand simply is present when the decision process needs clarity. Geofencing and push have proven to be very effective in penetrating the process. In their most recent of ongoing partnerships with the popular wine shopping app hello vino, Constellation and hello vino use location-specific push notifications to promote specific brands as the consumer neared a relevant store. “We have had really good success with that, with more than 160,000 views [on a single Mark West brand campaign]. Then we can do post surveys to follow up to find out if they purchased the product or saved it and can assess ROI.

Similarly, he is working with Shopkick, a general consumer shopping deals and rewards app I usually associate with Best Buy, Target and American Eagle rather than wine. “Target is a very strategic account for us,” says Fehrnstrom. The retailer has a growing wine category, and Constellation uses Shopkick to access those shoppers in-store with incentives for scanning product. It is designed to drive awareness and consideration. “We have generated over 650,000 product scans over three separate campaigns,” he says. “And in the post survey we found 11% of people who scan indicate they purchase the product and 70% say they intend to purchase it in the future. That is pretty good ROI,” he says.

There is always a lot of discussion over who controls the mobile relationship in-store and whether consumers are relying on retail. Third-party or product brand apps and resources in the middle of shopping. For Constellation there is little argument. “We made a conscious decision not to try to create our own wine-based app with only our portfolio of brands. The better route strategically is to partner with hello vino and shopkick because they have the base and the ability, depending on the app itself, to engage the consumer across all aspects [of shopping].”

While Fehrnstrom appreciates the performance and ROI he is seeing in these app partnerships, he is also intent on cracking the mobile code on mobile advertising and getting more reach with some of the same performance metrics he can see from shopping apps. Constellation has a wide range of beer and spirits brands like Corona Extra and Light, Tsingtao, Svedka vodka and Black Velvet. That 25% of the marketing budget goes to a lot of online media to drive awareness.

The next stage is better targeting and back-end metrics to close the loop. They are partnering with Datalogix to build audiences “targeting ads only to people we know have purchased wine in the past.” Datalogix has itself partnered with longtime retail marketing service dunnhumby, which manages cash register-level and loyalty card data. Between the two data sets, “they know which segments of the population to really target for wine consumers. And then on the back side we can see did it actually result in an incremental lift in sales? From that we get a real handle on the ROI of digital.”

The mobile piece may not be at quite that level of accountability, but Fehrnstrom is exploring how beacons in stores and restaurants as well as augmented reality engagements and other micro-location targeting can use devices to engage his customers and potential customers at the moment that matters -- the point of in-store decision.   

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