Guest article

Customer data is the most important ingredient in drinks

By Jon Reay, Founder of Rewrite Digital

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags digital Marketing Data

The liquid product is clearly fundamental to drinks firms but without the right exposure and consumer thirst for it sales soon dry up, writes Jon Reay of Rewrite Digital in this guest article.

Traditional distribution only gets you so far. Mere presence on the shelf of a bar or supermarket is no longer enough and the reach of advertising is being increasingly restricted. Tastes change and new brands continually enter the market. Drinks firms must respond by adapting their products as well as engaging directly with existing and potential customers.

Customer data is your most important ingredient. Read on to learn how to make the perfect blend of it for your drinks business.

Start with your (data)base

Begin by building and maintaining your customer database. You may already have one but is it up to date and does it provide customer insight, not just a means to contact them? Are you continually adding to it and is it General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant?

Use every opportunity to sign people up to your database – be it visits to your website, interactions on social media, entries to competitions or at physical events. Are there ways you can recruit people to your database in bars and supermarkets too?

Use your database to regularly communicate with your audience. Make sure you’ve gained clear consent to do so and give your audience the ability to manage their preferences. This ensures GDPR compliance but also collects valuable information on what’s of most interest to each individual.

Add personal flavour to surprise and delight

All your customers are different. Personalising your product to every drinker is impossible to achieve (although Johnnie Walker’s My Edition​ makes a step in this direction). However, you can personalise the digital experience you provide.

Tailoring to the individual in every channel can be difficult but you can begin with simple segmentation of email. Over time you can start to segment more granularly, not just in the messages you send but when you send them. Set up triggered emails based on personally-relevant events such as viewing products and not buying them. Add personalisation to your website based on rules such as location, referral site or whether a visitor is new or returning.

Data can be used less directly too, pooled from multiple experiences and multiple individuals to learn and act on trends.

Every time someone interacts with you, gather more data - both implicit and explicit. Collect data iteratively rather than all at once so you don’t bombard your valuable audience.

Enrich with innovation and serve

As drinks brands improve their use of customer data to establish increasingly relevant and personal interactions, how do you stand out?

One example is with Artificial Intelligence (AI). IntelligentX beer​ uses customer feedback to drive machine learning algorithms to brew each batch, matching what consumers want more quickly than anyone else can.

Most interactions with customers are via the on and off trade rather than direct. There’s a huge opportunity for drinks firms to develop deeper relationships with their customers through data sharing across the distribution chain. Of course, retailers also need to get better at collecting data in the first place.

Amazon has recognised the value of its data to advertisers and has developed a data sharing platform​.

Supermarkets are generally quite advanced in customer data collection but bars and restaurants are lagging behind. With more and more payments now being electronic and more accurately recorded, we expect to see more in the way of transactional data in the on trade being utilised.

Pernod Ricard have been trialling connected bottles and glasses to increase data collection and give drinkers exclusive content and experiences on smartphones.

The drinks industry is also starting to use blockchain technology. Circumstance, a whisky distillery, claims to be the world’s first to use blockchain​ for pre-sales to its customers.

Why wait until customers come to you? Use data to pre-empt demand. Supermarkets, airlines and high volume food service businesses have been doing this for years. Why not apply it to your communications to trigger a purchase at just the right moment?

Refill your data strategy

Customer data is your most important ingredient. Are you including enough of it in your drinks business?

Start with your database, add personal flavour and enrich with innovation for the perfect serve to your customers.


About the author: ​Prior to launching Rewrite Digital, Jon worked in several digital agencies around the world for seventeen years. He has led pioneering digital and customer engagement strategies for organisations that include William Grant & Sons, Lloyd’s of London, Manchester City FC, Team GB, IKEA, UK Cabinet Office and Tourism New Zealand. Educated in Computer Science at Bristol University, Jon has experience working with a range of digital technologies to which he brings significant value to IT, marketing and business strategies for clients. Jon has written for numerous publications and spoken at events and conferences in Europe and the US.

Rewrite Digital works with businesses to elevate the way they look at digital. Find out more at

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