Guest article

How can drinks brands maximise the power of celebrity endorsement to drive purchase?

By Alex Green, co-founder, Beyond Wines

- Last updated on GMT

UK consumers are overwhelmed by the choice in wine - and are happy to take their cues from celebrities. Pic:getty/fluxfactory
UK consumers are overwhelmed by the choice in wine - and are happy to take their cues from celebrities. Pic:getty/fluxfactory

Related tags: retail channels, Social media, Wine

Following recent wine launches from Gary Barlow, Kylie Minogue and The Only Way is Essex star Amy Childs, Alex Green, co-founder of distributor Beyond Wines asks: how influential are celebrities in the drinks sector?

If you asked me a few years ago, where the growth was going to come from in wine in 2021, I would not have said the word ‘celebrity’! However, led by a few really good endorsements and collaborations, this area of the market is thriving.

When you stop to think about it, it makes a lot of sense: in purchasing environments where consumers are stretched for time, such as supermarkets, decisions have to be made quickly. On top of that, the wine aisle can be daunting for many consumers, who simply don’t know their Bourgogne from their Barossa (and why should they!?). So consumers naturally look for any help they can get, straining for clues about which wine might be ‘for them’.

Building trust from familiarity

any childs
Beyond Wines has just launched a collaboration with The Only Way is Essex star, Amy Childs – Amy x Liquid Diamond will be available from December.

Some brands have become known entities; such as Freixenet Prosecco, Campo Viejo and recognised wine styles such as Provence Rose. ‘Brands’ like these make wine more familiar and can be bought with confidence by the initiated and uninitiated alike.

But outside of that, the wall of wine continues to overwhelm and so UK consumers look for other cues on pack. Graham Norton, Ian Botham, Phillip Schofield; these are names that mean something, and are trusted, by large sections of the public.

Simply put, if I know/like/follow/trust, the name of the person associated with this product, then I can trust the product too.

The fact it has taken celebs fulfilling their own aspirations to make their own wine brands and use their appeal to break down barriers to purchase for mainstream and new drinkers, is perhaps an indictment on the wine industry – we have not been able to help consumers more ourselves. We need to do more to make shopping for wine fun, exciting and accessible to all, something the beer and spirits categories have done far more successfully.

Engaging the right ambassador

While brands will obviously seek celebrity endorsement to lift sales, it is crucial not to appear to be pedalling a gimmick.

This starts with the target consumer base and ensuring that the person you work with appeals to your audience: I don’t think it works nearly as well the other way around. Finding a celeb who wants to make their own wine, without considering who will want to buy products with this person’s name on it, is definitely a ploy to make a quick buck, rather than help consumers and will ultimately be short lived.

The trust of the consumer you are targeting can be gained, quickly and for a long time, by offering them a brand ambassador who means something to them. Authenticity is important, and while it may seem fundamental, it is important that the celebrity would actually buy and drink the product, even without the association. Strong market research and customer profiling will help identify their interests and can indicate the type of celebrity that will appeal. 

If targeting the Instagram generation, it is also beneficial to look into a celebrity’s online reach and social media presence, which can be harnessed for exposure and to speak directly, and authentically, with potential consumers. Tapping into their audience can help boost following on your own platforms meaning greater opportunities for ongoing brand exposure and hopefully translating to sales.

alex beyond wines
Alex Green, co-founder, Beyond Wines

More and more celebrity endorsed brands are appearing, and will certainly accelerate over the next year or so. Brands can benefit from the trust it cultivates with new drinkers, encouraging them to trial new products and enter new drinks categories, and the loyalty to make repeat purchases.

For those that want to get involved, you stand the best chance of success if you find a target market who are not currently being served or spoken to, find an ambassador partner who is engaged and willing to be present and genuinely help, and ensure the products are available in the retail or on trade environments where your audience will be.

About Beyond Wines: ​Beyond Wines is a UK based distributor founded by Alex Green and Matt Johnson; two members of the senior team behind i heart wines and Freixenet. Its portfolio includes pillar brand, Liquid Diamond, which truly blends aesthetic and accessibility. The brand offers consumers the chance to purchase something beautiful for gifts and to take to parties (or just to enjoy themselves at home!), whilst speaking to them on their level and in a way inspired by modern life in the 21st century. It has just launched a collaboration with The Only Way is Essex star, Amy Childs – Amy x Liquid Diamond will be available from December. 

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