Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for October 31, 2011

October 31, 2011

•Beam Inc. is expanding its fast-growing Skinnygirl range with Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo, a vodka-based RTD cocktail with 100 calories per 4-ounce serving. Featuring a clear, colorless liquid, the cocktail is intended to help female consumers prevent stains on carpets, furniture and clothing, according to brand collaborator and ambassador Bethenny Frankel. Priced at $14.99 a 750-ml., the new addition will be available at select retailers in time for the holiday season and is slated for a nationwide rollout by next summer. White Cranberry Cosmo joins Skinnygirl’s original Margarita, as well as the brand’s Sangria extension, launched in August. Acquired by Beam in March of this year, Skinnygirl saw its first-half control state sales jump from less than 500 cases in 2010 to 34,000 cases in 2011, according to NABCA.

•Online retailer Virgin Wines (part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group) is hoping to expand its Explorers Club wine program with $100 voucher coupons toward a first buy, targeting consumers of like-minded brands such as Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble customers are receiving $100 coupons toward an introductory 12-bottle case of wine—normally priced at $170—from Virgin’s collection, which focuses on boutique labels from around the world. After the first purchase, Virgin offers Explorers Club members a specially selected case every three months at the normal price. The Wall Street Journal and Zagat wine clubs have been offering similar ventures as a way to bring new consumers into the fold.

•The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission is opting not to sell Adult Chocolate Milk, the 20%-abv cream-chocolate-vodka liqueur handled in the U.S. by W.J. Deutsch & Sons (through Adult Beverage Co, a joint venture with brand founders Tracy Reinhardt and Nikki Halbur). The Iowa ABC objected to the product’s milk-bottle packaging and marketing, which it says could be confused with a non-alcoholic product. In a statement to Shanken News Daily today, Reinhardt and WJ Deutsch & Sons ceo Peter Deutsch said: “We’re disappointed with the Iowa ruling, but as mothers and fathers, we respect the commitment of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission to the responsible sale and marketing of beverage alcohol products. We believe in this product which was created by two moms to appeal to adult consumers.  We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with the Commission that reinforces our original intent and continuing commitment to market this product to adults.”

•In an effort to target the fine dining segment, daily deals site Groupon has launched an invitation-only service, Groupon Reserve. A select number of Groupon subscribers were recently invited to join the high-end dining resource, which started with a deal for a three-course tasting menu for two at New York’s Bice restaurant for $70. The move follows the announcement of rival Living Social’s play for the fine dining coupon market, Living Social Gourmet, by about two weeks.

•Marketing communications company Ogilvy & Mather recently partnered with research firm ChatThreads to complete a study of the impact of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, on restaurant industry sales. The study—conducted between January and May of this year—tracked spending habits of roughly 400 American restaurant customers, before and after exposure to social media marketing. The study concludes that social media advertising has a direct impact on restaurant sales, with customers exposed to social media marketing being seven times more likely to spend and consume more at restaurants compared with others. The best results were seen with restaurants that integrated social media marketing with other media outlets including television commercials, billboard ads and news stories.

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