In 2013, Coca-Cola swapped its bottle’s logo with hundreds of first names (and later over a thousand) so people could ‘Share a Coke’ with friends. They made many more names available when buying direct online and supported the sharing of personalised virtual bottles too.
That was a very crude type of personalisation of course, but it’s limited how far you can push a low value, high volume product that’s successful because it’s always the same.
Bottles of spirits, carrying a much higher price point than Coca-Cola, can now be bought with customised labels. In 2014, The Famous Grouse played on their name to tailor bottles bought online with labels such as ‘The Famous Dad’ or ‘The Famous Chef’ accompanied with your own uploaded photo. The following year they made the service available in Selfridges with printing live in store.
It’s now commonplace to be able to personalise the label with your own greeting when buying spirits online (such as this example from Glenfiddich).
All these examples are just changing the dressing. But now brands are starting to personalise beyond the packaging to the liquid itself.
In a rather unsophisticated fashion, Coca-Cola’s Freestyle vending machines let you mix drinks perfectly to your preferred taste.
More impressively, the robotic bartender Nino by Makr Shakr serves up custom cocktails in seconds.
Pernod Ricard’s Opn supports custom cocktail making at home with a connected cocktail library using an ecosystem of devices, applications and services.
Johnnie Walker’s My Edition enables people to purchase whiskies that are matched to an individual’s flavour preferences. Despite the feeling of a custom match, there are in fact only six varieties of the product but you get the impression of creating highly personalised blends.
There are a number of other services, however, that more widely open up the blending process to consumers. Whisky Blender enables drinkers and gifters to create a 70cl bottle made up of a completely customisable mix of up to seven different varieties of whisky. Master of Malt offers a similar service and also a Home Blending Kit to experiment with a custom blend before committing to a full bottle.
While these examples are personalising drinks, they’re rather bluntly mixing existing malts, blends and base ingredients. What about creating a completely custom brew of beer or distillation of a spirit?
Scratch brewing and distilling
Specific beer brews have been created for large conferences and events but rely on a certain volume of production and budget to be viable.
Making your own homebrew can be a complex, laborious and often disappointing pursuit. Yes it’s personalised, but it has little appeal to today’s ‘on demand’ generation used to getting things at the click of a button or tap of a screen.
Rewrite Digital is conducting a survey into digital in the drinks industry: you can take part here. Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the report.
LG thinks it has the answer with HomeBrew, unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Its capsule-based craft beer making machine aims to simplify and digitise the process of brewing your own beer. However, waiting approximately two weeks for your brew means it’s unlikely to appeal to impatient Millennial and Generation Z drinkers.
Depending on what ingredients you use, a brand new gin can be created and distilled in a matter of days. Some producers like Oro Distilling provide a personalised distilling service, one step closer to truly personalised drinks on demand.
Whisky naturally has to age at least three years before it’s ready so such a service for Scotch lovers is unlikely to surface anytime soon.
Have it your way
We expect to see more personalised liquids in 2019, extending beyond the label and beyond blending to craft completely new drinks that you can call your own.
Rewrite Digital works with drinks businesses to elevate the way they look at digital. Find out more at RewriteDigital.com.
About the author: Prior to launching Rewrite Digital, Jon Reay worked in 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.
Pictures: getty/svetazi; getty/apartment; jonreay.