How drinks brands can put the fizz into their ecommerce sales | KHWS

How drinks brands can put the fizz into their ecommerce sales

Behavioural Insight

There’s a common problem facing alcohol brands that’s making their online sales fall flat. When we choose booze in a supermarket or off licence, the price is in full view, and so we get a sense of value for money. Why, then, is there such a lack of commercial activation on drinks brands’ websites and social channels?

There are, without doubt, some lovingly crafted websites telling alcohol brand stories. The trouble is, many of these sites seem to think sales is a dirty word. Take Jack Daniel’s Facebook page. The content is delightful, but value is scarcely framed. On the JD home page, the brand has started to show price. But it’s tentative. It’s probably not unfair to suggest that many drinkers would know the brand is well over 100 years old and originated in Tennessee, but wouldn’t have any idea how much a bottle costs.

Like marketers in most industries, booze brand guardians are under huge pressure to prove digital investment is worth it. We know from a recent breakfast event we ran that drinks brands are cautious about framing price across all media – they told us themselves.

We also believe that to be more effective, messaging on websites and social channels must be bolder. And that means taking steps to frame price.

For an in-depth creative messaging research project that we are conducting with Durham University, we created three ‘dummy’ brands (to guard against survey bias). We asked people to make choices based on different brand messages, displayed in various mocked-up ecommerce environments.

The sample brands were fake makes of cheese, chocolate and tea, but the findings are relevant to all FMCG categories. We aimed to prove that taking a behavioural-led approach to ecommerce strategies – understanding the efficacy nine Sales Triggers we have developed by identifying and reframing the nine heuristics most relevant to purchase – ultimately boosts sales.

For example, the Brand Budgeting Sales Trigger is based on the fact that people have ‘mental accounts’ for different types of purchase, and the way your frame and present price can significantly alter spending behaviour. Crucially, the value of investing in a product – whatever its actual cost – can be framed without ever mentioning price and risking a descent into discounting battles.


Here are just a few of the startling insights from our poll:

  • Some 51% of people follow brands on at least one social media channel with the express desire of being given offers: our Brand Budgeting Sales Trigger is key for them. Less than a quarter mainly want entertaining content, and even fewer (a fifth) want to interact


  • Furthermore, 60.6% are searching for offers when visiting a brand website


  • Creatively framing price or communicating a key product feature can help an FMCG brand drive sales by disrupting the social media experience. For example, almost 60% of people responded positively to the framing of our chocolate brand’s key benefit in a social media post. Nearly a fifth said they would be likely to buy the product online immediately. In other words, creative that isn’t overtly commercial can still prompt a sale.


The upshot of all this is consumers are surprisingly happy to be presented with commercial activation on brands’ social channels and websites. They don’t just want entertainment or emotional involvement. But it is vital to use messaging that frames price in a compelling way.

We believe drinks brands should always follow a behavioural-led approach, considering consumer purchasing behaviour at every touchpoint along the ecommerce trail. This means testing different Sales Triggers by rendering different creative messaging and content to determine what works best – just as we did in our study.

For drinks, we think this means being bold enough to blend commercial messaging with entertaining content, and doing this again and again. The more consumers experience these tactics in tandem, the more the work becomes a single message in their subconscious.

We’re not talking about massive investment. A test-and-learn strategy is relatively simple to implement on social media or a brand website. Soon you’ll start to demonstrate how efficient and effective your ecommerce marketing budgets can be.

You can discover more about the research by downloading our report, Proceed to Checkout 2.0.