How This Drink App Is Using Data to Engage Customers in Real-Time

Cocktail app Hooch is using data in unique ways

Headshot of Curtis Sparrer

Is it possible to activate an interaction with your customer that rivals Ellen DeGeneres for one of the most popular retweets of all time? Unlikely. User engagement like Wendy’s chicken nugget fan Carter Wilkerson is rare. Businesses in all industries are looking for innovative ways to bring their consumers to take action. Many have difficulty, and hoping for the next #NuggsForCarter is not a strategy.

Hooch, an app that is part of the recent wave of niche subscription services in the last few years, is using data in a unique way to engage with its consumers. With Hooch, subscribers pay $9.99 per month and can get one free drink every day from participating bars. For customers, especially in large metros, the app pays for itself with one trip. Even more notable, however, is Hooch’s ability to leverage the digital age’s hottest commodity: data. For Hooch and many other companies, customer data is the real (chicken) nugget.

Here’s what we can learn from Hooch’s engagement strategy:

Digitize a custom experience

In our increasingly digital world, customers are expecting companies to engage with them through a wide range of digital mediums. Over the past 15 years, digital usage in the form of transactions, customer and supplier interactions and internal business processes grew almost fivefold. It’s become increasingly important to create a digital experience that sets an engagement strategy apart.

Hooch augments the decision process for its consumers by digitizing a custom experience. “For 100 years, alcohol brands spent a lot of money trying to get on the bar’s printed cocktail menu,” says Lin Dai, CEO of Hooch. “But people get overwhelmed by the 14 items listed on a paper menu and often don’t select any of them in the end and just order a vodka soda instead.”

Taking a cue from Dai, business can give customers a new way to interact with a previously analog process. In doing so, brands can build a foundation of data they can leverage to fine-tune marketing strategies.

Build personalized client profiles

Once you have a platform to interact with your customer, companies need to know what data metrics hold the most value. For example, Hooch collects data through drink redemption. When a customer redeems a drink they can gain information on when, where and how long customers spend their time. Based on the drink a customer selects, they build a profile to understand brand and taste preferences. As more data aggregates for an individual, Hooch is able to build personalized campaigns and recommendations that a customer is likely to redeem.

Businesses that don’t have a mobile application can glean insights about customers from Facebook and other social media platforms, as well as Google analytics. Allowing customers to sign up for a mailing list or build a profile on your site through their Facebook or Twitter profiles is a simple way to leverage data from those platforms to discern meaningful behavioral information about current and potential consumers.

Adapt with trends

While historical data recognizes past trends, it can be tricky for businesses to adapt to new patterns that emerge in different markets. Hooch is able to identify trends based on particular regions by analyzing real-time data. For example, it was able to predict that the Moscow Mule would dominate California before the trend was recognized in popular culture.

Having real-time access to data allows them to overlay demographic and geographic information to help brands make more surgical branding and marketing decisions. The benefit is a recommendation to a customer at the right time and the right place.

Execute during crucial moments

Even the best engagement strategies aren’t as effective if the customer is not in a position to buy. Hooch engages with customers at crucial buying moments. Hooch’s affiliate brands can feature content as drink recommendations that design a cocktail, feature it, and showcase it to the consumer moments before they talk to the bartender. This marries personalized suggestions, brand loyalty and point of sale. Win, win, win.

While one app is revolutionizing how consumers drink, all industries are adopting digitization and customer engagement. Companies must consider all the ways in which they are driving their users to engage in new and effective ways. We won’t all have a Wendy’s chicken nugget moment, but we can strive to learn strategies that businesses like Hooch are leveraging.

@thatcurtis Curtis Sparrer is a principal at Bospar.