The market for non-alcoholic beverages is expanding rapidly. Growing numbers of consumers are either drastically reducing their alcohol intake, or turning their back on it altogether. This trend is particularly prevalent in under 30s and over 45s.
Yet the choice of non-alcoholic drinks available to adults can be disappointing. There is only so much fizzy pop one person can drink through an evening. And 12 months ago, none of the non-alcoholic gins available on the market tasted remotely like gin.
Our client was Devon-based start-up Not Gin Ltd. With a background in launching and growing catering businesses, they knew that a non-alcoholic gin that actually tasted like gin could be achieved.
The process for achieving this involved individually extracting the botanics (flavours) separately in laboratory conditions and then blending them afterwards. Their competitors – including Seedlip – were producing their beverages very differently, essentially distilling a gin first and then removing the alcohol as a final stage in the process.
Creating a positioning and brand story
When the owner managers of Not Gin Ltd first contacted us, they had investors, a sample of the beverage in a plastic lab bottle and a firm idea of the retail price and projected turnover. They also knew that they wanted to target people like them – middle-aged people who didn’t feel or act middle aged.
What they didn’t have was a brand, a story, bottles or packaging – or any marketing materials or presence. They were concerned that their “lab” product would sound artificial. They were also concerned that they didn’t have a “copper still” story to tell.
Our clients were based in premises overlooking the Devon and Dorset coast – so we suggested they included seaside botanicals in their product. We researched the extraction methods used by the lab and found that they were all techniques that had been around for hundreds of years – distillation, steaming and extraction. This meant we could tell a story about the alcohol being gently removed, using centuries-old techniques.
With this in mind, we created a positioning of More Beautiful Without. This gave us a platform to talk about life often being more beautiful without certain things – including alcohol. It also gave us a platform to talk about nature – taking the story far away from the lab.
We suggested a number of names for the product – each of which supported the More Beautiful Without, natural positioning. Sea Arch was the outright winner. It allows us to talk about nature making things more beautiful by taking some things away. It also opened the door to partnerships with environmental, coastal and anti-plastic charities and campaigns.
We then collaborated with the design agency who were creating the bottles and packaging to ensure no plastics were used and that there was a natural, beachy vibe to the look and feel.
Presenting a “third option”
One of the first things people often said to us and the owners of Not Gin Ltd at the beginning of this project was, “What’s the point?”.
Often, there simply wasn’t a space in people’s minds for a non-alcoholic spirit. Either people had tried non-alcoholic beer and found it lacking. Or they’d view their options as drinking alcohol or soft drinks – they simply weren’t aware of a third option.
So from the outset, it was clear to us that the journey to purchasing Sea Arch would, for many consumers, have to start with education. When would you drink it? How would you drink it? How would you serve it? Because without this information and inspiration, it would be too difficult to disrupt established behaviours and supplement them with the third option.
In its first phase, the content marketing strategy was about education and brand building. We designed the structure of Sea Arch’s website to include sections on “Occasions” (when to drink it), and “Recipes” (how to drink it). It also contained a complete breakdown of ingredients, highlighting the links to the sea and to nature. All imagery had a coastal vibe and the messaging was inspirational and adventurous.
We created a content schedule that made sure that when the bottled product finally launched, there was considerable interest in the brand and pre-orders lined up.
We also created collateral to tell the story of Sea Arch at food and drink festivals and exhibitions.
There were a number of delays in production, which meant that we had to adjust the content marketing timelines and goals a few times.
In the space of 12 months, a very small, owner-managed start-up went from having an idea to having a product with a compelling brand presence and story – and pre-orders to launch with.
They’re also now pitching for more substantial investment and have the tools and narrative to succeed.