Spirits Brands Have a Big Opportunity With Mobile Ads

IAB finds that drinkers are digitally savvy

Diageo seemed to signal in 2011—by inking a multimillion-dollar deal with Facebook—that alcohol brands were embracing online advertising. But the consumer-goods category still lags digitally behind niches not called healthcare, and new research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau suggests that spirits have a chance to get ahead of their competitors if they act now.

It won't be long before nearly every beer, wine and liquor player significantly invests in marketing via smartphones and tablets, specifically when it comes to millennials and Gen Xers.

"Alcohol brands are changing, and some are changing faster than others," said Anna Bager, vp and gm of the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence. "But I think they are going to ramp up fast. For instance, we've learned that Bacardi is reallocating 15 percent of its budget to digital. We are going to see a fast change here. There are so many rules around alcohol advertising, so it has taken a little time."

Indeed, as in healthcare, spirits marketers have to abide by more regulations than in other categories. But the IAB's findings—which arose from Prosper Insights & Analytics surveying 6,535 adults—indicate that there's a big digital market almost waiting there:


  • 83 percent of drinkers own smartphones, in contrast to 65 percent of the general population.
  • One out of three said that their mobile phone "is their life."
  • 52 percent of drinkers own a tablet versus 43 percent of average Americans.
  • Alcohol users are more likely to redeem mobile coupons (32 percent versus 26 percent) or text offers (49 percent vs 40 percent) than the general population.
  • And they are more apt to purchase on mobile devices in comparison to the typical U.S. consumer (38 percent vs 25 percent).


Spirits brands should use a mix of mobile and digital platforms to reach consumers, Bager said.

"Location is obviously a big factor here," she said. "You want to catch the consumer while he's in the bar or on his way to the bar."

To download the IAB's "Digital Mixology Playbook" report, which includes a comprehensive white paper on alcohol brands and mobile, click here.

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