With Americans cutting back their liquor consumption outside the home, Diageo is tackling one of the toughest challenges in marketing, Burt Helm writes. It is attempting to change consumer behavior by
making the cocktail cool again. "A cocktail prepared by a barman carries an air of mystery," says Jon Potter, chief marketing officer at Diageo North America.
The basic problem is that
people are more likely to imbibe beer and wine at home, not Smirnoff, Jose Cuervo and the other brands of rum, vodka, whiskey, and gin that Diageo pushes. So Diageo has relaunched its Web site,
thebar.com, with 750 drink recipes and 100 how-to videos that teach basic bar skills, such as crushing ice and rimming a glass with salt.
It's also expanding its line of ready-to-serve
cocktails -- such as the mix of vodka, limoncello, and citrus flavoring called Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade -- for drinkers who'd rather not shake or stir. And it plans to replicate a strategy called
Simply Cocktails, which it introduced last year in Ireland, in which store shelves are divided into three sections: Ready Pour, Easy Shake, and Simple Mix. Premade cocktails are in the "pour" section;
combinations of spirits and mixers in the other two.
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