Since the inception of marketing, a helpful adage has been used to keep marketers focused on the four most important pillars of a sound sales campaign, and it goes a little something like this:

Put the right product in the right place, at the right price, and at the right time.

When marketing, advertising, and sales campaigns highlight these four crucial pillars--namely product, price, place, and promotion--the messages that consumers receive are crystal clear. Leave one of these pillars out of your sales campaign and consumers won't have enough information to compare your products to your competitors' and feel confident about patronizing your business.

Marketing campaigns that include clear descriptions of products with straightforward prices as well as denoting where consumers can buy them are far more successful than campaigns that leave consumers in the dark by leaving out critical information. And as basic as this 4-pillar strategy has been since the start, it remains tried-and-true to this day.

But major advances have been made in technology that directly impact how marketers can execute their sales campaigns. With today's digital marketing technologies that include e-commerce, apps, and artificial intelligence, businesses can greatly strengthen the 4 pillars and expand their advertising reach. In this article, we'll explore these technologies and examine how they're reshaping the liquor industry specifically. Whether you're a liquor retailer, own a bar, or manage an alcohol distribution center, the information we will cover is for you.

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The original 4-pillar marketing strategy that includes product, price, place, and promotion was developed long before the advent of the internet, which means that popular digital marketing concepts didn't influence the four pillars. Does this imply that current popular marketing concepts such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and algorithmic targeted advertisements should replace the four pillars? Not at all. But they can be integrated into your campaign strategies, especially when those campaigns utilize the artificial intelligence tools that are available on the market today.

In a sense, digital marketing can be regarded as an expansion of the last pillar, i.e. promotion, and yet e-commerce and artificial intelligence have the ability to redefine your entire business model and reshape your business' organizational processes from the top down in three primary ways. Let's take a look.

Redefining Your Business Model

The first of the four marketing pillars focuses on products. Bear in mind that the "products" pillar includes "services" as well, especially when you're operating a bar or managing a distribution center where packaging and handling are an integral part of order fulfillment. Prior to the internet, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and all the marketing possibilities therein, when businesses focused their sales campaigns on their "products and services", they were able to sell effectively. But nowadays, you must shift your focus away from your products and services and put it onto your customers instead. In other words, rather than placing your products at the center of your sales campaigns, instead place your customers there in such a way that you are marketing directly to them and solving their problems with your products and services. The distinction is subtle, but it makes all the difference in the world, and focusing on your customers has never before been more possible than it is now thanks to A.I. (artificial intelligence), collected customer data, and customer-centric targeted promotional campaigns. By putting your customers and their specific needs at the center of your marketing efforts, you will naturally redefine your business model.   

Reshaping Your Business' Processes

Once you shift your marketing focus onto meeting your customers' needs with your products and services, emphasizing that you understand who they are and how your products can alleviate their "pain points", you will begin to reshape the business processes of communicating with your customers. Utilizing technological solutions such as customer data collection, list segmentation, and outreach automation with emails, SMS text messages, and app push notifications will give your marketing efforts a highly personalized touch. Because these technologies use built-in A.I. that compiles customer data relevant to the customers' browsing and purchasing histories, the automated product suggestions that go out to your customers will speak directly to the customers' interests, making promotional offers all the more likely to be acted on. This technology can greatly speed up sales and help liquor retailers, bar owners, and alcohol distribution center sales staff to better target customer groups and successfully increase revenue.   

Restructuring the Competition

An interesting byproduct of marketing strategies shifting fully into the digital is that the lines drawn to differentiate you from your competitors are becoming blurred. What was once regarded as "symmetric" industries are now being viewed as "asymmetric". There is a near-constant fluctuation of the boundaries between your business and the competition, and this is due to the fact that your own business has been able to traverse beyond its original industry. Brick-and-mortar liquor retailers who only used to operate physical retail store locations can now also sell online via e-commerce websites and reach far more customers, for example. Expanding their operations in this manner has brought them into competition with more businesses, and yet their businesses have grown, not shrunken, due to increased sales. In this sense, bringing themselves into competition with additional businesses has influenced and restructured how they market to consumers, how their businesses compare to the competition, and how asymmetric expansion has empowered them with a broader marketing reach that can help secure greater customer loyalty.

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Understanding Artificial Intelligence's Influence on Digital Marketing

As we've touched upon, personalized marketing campaigns that are uniquely tailored to each customer was not possible prior to developments in digital technologies. Over the course of mere decades, beginning with the first efforts to market digitally online upon the birth of the internet, advancements in digital technology, ecommerce, and A.I. have revolutionized marketing and advertising. By focusing on your customers' interests and needs above all else, your digital marketing efforts can be highly personalized and predictive in such a way that anticipates the future needs of each specific customer. But how exactly can A.I. bring your digital marketing to the next level?

Effective digital marketing is not possible without access to customer data. Data also lies at the core of the information that artificial intelligence uses in order to perform its programmed commands. It's no wonder that digital marketing and A.I. have intersected. While the communicative relationship between A.I. and digital marketing campaigns continues to grow, the role of A.I. in digital marketing as it stands today has come to be autonomous enough that A.I. can handle the lion's share of product placement decisioning and promotional re-targeting in real-time without human intervention. In other words, business owners do not have to micromanage the A.I. strategies of their software, though monitoring the success of those strategies will remain a must.

Artificial Intelligence also makes adding an extra "P" to the original four pillars easy. In addition to product, price, place, and promotion, we now have "people" as the fifth pillar. By enabling your A.I.-driven digital marketing software to handle the modern, 5-pillar system that places customers at the center of your marketing strategy, you can take advantage of artificial intelligence in the following ways:

  • • I. for People
  • • I. for Products
  • • I. for Prices
  • • I. for Places
  • • I. for Promotions

    Let's take a deep dive into these five, modern-day, digital pillars…

    A.I. for People

    Using a holistic view of your customers' experiences with your business, brand, and ecommerce website, artificial intelligence can tailor each interaction to improve the overall customer experience as your customers browse, buy, and return to your ecommerce site. A.I. has the ability to shape the "people aspect" of your digital marketing efforts, as follows:

  • • Launch one-to-one marketing campaigns based on each customer's personal preferences
  • • Use clustering and classification techniques to build customer profiles and bundle those into customer segmentation
  • • Employ predictive product suggestions to nudge customers towards the next step in their purchasing relationship with your brand
  • • Utilize smart automation to instantly engage site visitors and funnel each towards their goal, whether buying a specific product or reaching a customer service representative

    A.I. for Products

    Artificial intelligence can assist with your research and development initiatives, whether you're developing new products or upgrading existing ones. While A.I. can't go unmanaged and unmonitored in this area of your business, by engaging A.I. to assist your R&D personnel, you can streamline your development timeline and success, as follows: 

  • • Weed-out irrelevant developmental ideas so that brainstorming time isn't wasted on considering non-viable products
  • • Accelerate time spent in the product testing phases by tasking A.I. to analyze customer feedback during trials
  • • Target the right people at the right time with the right products in the right environment with A.I. organized campaign initiatives
  • • Identify opportunities to increase market share for popular products, such as using upselling and cross-selling

    A.I. for Prices

    Perhaps the most important area for improving ecommerce sales for liquor retailers is how A.I. can inform business owners of appropriate, competitive pricing that will have the highest success rate for customer checkout follow-through. By helping online customers verify and compare product prices, retailers can gain an edge over the competition, and also:

  • • Build pricing strategies that take into account the availability of products, the competitive industry environment, the global economic climate, and the real-world obstacles to order fulfillment and on-time delivery
  • • Track prices in the online marketplace and create fluid discount strategy models to garner a growing share of the market
  • • Suggest secure and preferred online payment methods at checkout to provide user-specific payment options that streamline the ecommerce shopping experience
  • • Conduct periodic market analysis to gather insights about product placement trends, customer needs, and popular value-added promotional strategies

    A.I. for Places

    Effective marketing efforts use a localized approach, especially for businesses within the liquor industry. If you have ecommerce site delivery options that include pick-up, ground and air shipping, and same-day delivery within a specified geographical radius, you can use artificial intelligence to your advantage, and also:

  • • Meet local, regional, and global demands in order to increase revenue, grow loyal customers, and expand your brand's overall digital reach
  • • Leverage segmented customer data to create region-specific promotional offerings that cater to whole communities
  • • Coordinate your digital marketing efforts with social media platforms to maximize customer engagement
  • • Set up trigger-based, automated communications with your ecommerce site visitors to optimize post-purchase engagement

    A.I. for Promotions

    With the help of artificial intelligence, business owners can achieve goals that are bigger than getting ecommerce visitors to buy their products. Digital marketing has the potential to guide a customer's lifelong relationship with your brand, and with A.I. assisting you, your brand can remain in constant, meaningful contact with your customers and foster loyalty from them in the long run. A.I programmed with predictive actions can also:

  • • Efficiently target customer segments through the right channels to improve public relationships, branding, and media management
  • • Utilize automated monitoring, management, and prediction for your inbound marketing
  • • Analyze preferential and behavioral customer data and leverage trends to generate user-specific marketing communication strategies
  • • Analyze the success rates of various lead strategies and maximize conversion rates by eliminating unsuccessful lead strategies

    Artificial intelligence has the ability to ingest customer data as it's compiled on your ecommerce site and process that data through its A.I. "engine". The A.I. engine involves five refining phases--descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, prescriptive, and cognitive. After a customer's data has gone through these five refining phases that make up the data processing unit, the A.I. engine then spits out practical, customer-centric information that can be applied to the digital marketing campaign that targets that very customer.

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Liquor Industry Ecommerce Sites Need Delivery Options & Apps

In 2020 alone, total alcohol sales saw an increase of 25.5%. This industry-wide increase in sales was the result of business owners employing digital marketing initiatives with A.I. capabilities to turn a bad situation into an opportunity to redesign their business models and increase profits.

The economic impact of the nationwide "shut down" of most retailers put liquor industry businesses in the financially dangerous predicament of having to close their retail doors. However, this gave way to developing ecommerce sites and delivery strategies that enabled them to stay afloat.

Not only did the liquor industry stay afloat, it increased its total alcohol sales by over 25% as we mentioned, which positively impacted each category of alcohol in the following ways:

  • • Beer sales increased by 20.2%
  • • Wine sales increased by 30.1%
  • • Spirits sales increased by 34.1%

    This would not have been possible if liquor industry businesses hadn't turned to ecommerce and added affordable and timely alcohol delivery options. Businesses that also offered mobile apps for even more customer convenience had the most success. By enabling customers to browse and order beer, wine, and spirits all within a speedy mobile app, these companies were able to grow their loyal customer base.

    With delivery options and a mobile app in place, your liquor store, bar, or distribution center will succeed in 2021, and artificial intelligence will play a huge role in the digital marketing efforts you deploy via your website and app. For every drink you can no longer serve, deliver one instead. You might not be able to crack open a bottle of champagne for your customers, but that doesn't mean you can't sell them one so that they can celebrate their milestones in a new way.

    If you would like to learn about how FTx can help your liquor business transition into ecommerce, develop an app, and integrate artificial intelligence into your digital marketing strategies, then Contact Us today. For more Liquor Industry solutions, click here.