How 2 Beverage Brands Quickly Built Businesses Ready to Thrive in 2020

Executives from YaVe Tequila and Ugly Drinks discussed the industry at Adweek's virtual event this week

Screenshot from Adweek's virtual event
YaVe Tequila CMO Steve Peretz and Ugly Drinks CEO Hugh Thomas spoke with Adweek's Diana Pearl. Adweek

It’s safe to say that no business plan could prepare a company for 2020. But in spite of a pandemic that turned much of the prevailing wisdom on its head, spirits startup YaVe Tequila and seltzer brand Ugly Drinks have found ways to change on the fly and meet consumers where they are now—at home, of course.

YaVe CMO Steve Peretz and Ugly Drinks co-founder and CEO Hugh Thomas spoke with Adweek deputy brands editor Diana Pearl at the eCommerce, CPG and Retail Performance Marketing Live Virtual Summit, highlighting the innovative ways each brand has worked to reshape its marketing and business model to reflect the ways consumer behavior has changed since March.

For Ugly, that’s meant pulling fans into the flavor development process by creating limited edition versions of its seltzer water and asking customers for feedback on each one. Those short-term offerings included marshmallow, sour apple and cherry soda flavors—each of which sold out within a couple weeks.

It’s “like they’re in the lab with us,” said Thomas. “It’s been quite a kind of exciting way for us to use direct to consumer in a way that we probably wouldn’t have done previously.”

At YaVe, the focus has been on ensuring that consumers are able to access the brand at home, through partnerships with delivery services like Drizly and Reserve Bar, as well as increasing visibility through digital advertising and influencer marketing.

“We’ve been very aggressive with our social ads and seeing some really interesting and tremendous results that have led to over the past couple months 500% growth, which is pretty staggering in these kinds of times,” said Peretz.

@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.