Spain is a synonym for fiestas, and every fiesta is usually accompanied by alcohol and good food. Juan López de Turiso López, Brand Manager Ballantine’s in Spain, knows very well how his fellow citizens like to have a good time. Last year Juan and his team launched a new product inspired by the motto: “Full of taste, half the alcohol”. The Ballantine team wanted to create a new whisky for conscious drinkers without sacrificing the richness of traditional whisky taste. When the Pernod Ricard brand decided to launch a new spirit, Ballantine’s Light, boobook jumped into the project and helped them identify the optimum price positioning and messaging.
Ballantine’s Finest is the second most popular spirit (just after Beefeater Dry) in Spain. “Whiskies usually must contain over 40% of alcohol. A few years ago, we noticed the consumers’ need for spirits with lower alcohol percentages. That is why last year, we decided to reach out to boobook to convey research so we can understand better the consumers’ mindset and the readiness to consume “lighter” versions of popular spirits,” says Juan.
“The whole idea was to create a product with all the taste but with less alcohol percentage so you can enjoy the same experience of drinking whisky. Many people don’t want to drink too much because they might have lunch with family the next day or have other private obligations. However, Spanish people are very much influenced by their habits and it can be hard to change their minds. That is why we wanted to do the research, so we can feel the pulse of our customers,” he continues.
Juan’s department came in touch with boobook through Marta Pérez Foullerat, Senior Consumer Insights Expert at Pernod Ricard Spain. She recommended boobook based on the ongoing and efficient collaborations between Pernod Ricard’s Centre of Excellence and boobook.
In September 2020, boobook conveyed a fully online survey in Spain with 530 participants. The screening was focused on people from the age 25 to 45 who were already consumers of premium whiskies.
The main question that boobook and Juan’s team had to answer was the price value of a new Ballantine’s Conscious Drinking proposition. To answer this business goal, the consumers were asked a series of questions, starting from their tendency to cut down on alcohol, interest in the low alcohol spirits, and perception of the new concept, as well as willingness to pay. When asked about the design of the new bottle, consumers reacted well to recognisable design elements, like the shape of the bottle, label, and a cap – all features that are visually linked to the core brand.
After gathering the data, boobook’s team translated the answers into the key takeaways. The pricing strategy was clear. “Among the most important takeaways was the fact that the price should be equal to Ballantine’s Finest price. This came from examining the needs of the consumers who want to have fun while staying in control. They aren’t worried so much about calories or looking for a cheaper product, so the price should be parity with the existing brand,” confirms Juan.
He also mentions how the occasion and times of consuming alcohol have drastically changed since COVID. “Today bars are open until 2 am, so people also changed their habits when and how they go out. Before, it was normal to stay out until 6 or 7 am, but today people go home earlier. Our sales team sees quite the interest in Ballantine’s Light among people who are between 30 and 40 and who want to enjoy quality time outside with their friends but still go home early and be ready for the personal or professional activities the next day,” explains Juan.
“The consumer insights and boobook’s advice lead to an actionable marketing and communication plan which was very well received by the C-level and the managers of the sales and marketing department,” adds Juan.
“In terms of communication, we launched a so-called “big bang”. That’s how we call a big campaign when launching a new product. We did a TV commercial for the first time in Spain because we are not allowed to do it with the other references because of the high alcohol percentages. We also did an influencer campaign, social media, mailing campaign, and so on; basically, we had a complete 360 degrees marketing plan. The campaign was active throughout May and June, and our main objective was to create awareness,” explains Juan.
“Now we are preparing another big bang. In terms of directives, after six months of building distribution and awareness, the next step is to convince our consumers and educate them about the consumption moment of this type of liquor. Considering Ballantine’s Light is entirely different from a conventional whisky drink, it can substitute other beverages, like beer, for example. So far, we are pleased with how we performed. By putting the consumer first, we managed to create a structured and well-prepared launch and marketing campaign,” says Juan.
When collaborating with external partners, Pernod Ricard as an organisation values the knowledge and expertise that complement their objective to maintain their consumer-centric approach. For this project, Juan and his Ballantine’s team successfully launched a new brand thanks to gathering the right consumer data and translating them into clear business guidelines.
“Overall, the experience we had with boobook was great. The team helped us a lot in terms of guidance and strategic advice on how to position and sell Ballantine’s Light. A precise view of consumers’ needs, their mindset and preferences were key to create, package, price and launch our new product; from the design of the bottle to its marketing messaging. Thanks to their expertise we could be truly consumer-led.”
As Juan and his team continue to build awareness around the new whisky product, the insights from the research will help them maintain a good relationship with the existing brand consumers, as well as establish a long-term connection with their new customers.
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