Pour Branding: New Report Reveals Alcohol Sector’s Struggles with Sound

Thought Leaders
Cover image for  article: Pour Branding: New Report Reveals Alcohol Sector’s Struggles with Sound

Bubbly or flat, brown or clear, red or white, neat or on the rocks, shaken or stirred, spiked or sober...alcohol and its various alternatives come in many cross-continental forms.

To keep up with consumer cravings and cultural trends, brands are rapidly expanding their product offerings, catering to global markets and niche sub-sectors. Branding is paramount in a sector competing for shelf space and consumer attention in a sea of brightly colored bottles and cans. The alcohol sector may be driving innovative developments in visual and product design, however, is it moving at the speed of sound?

From sound and spirits to beats and the bubbly, music and libations have gone hand in hand for thousands of years. Alcohol brands have been aware of this match made in heaven for decades, utilizing sound and music across advertisements whenever possible. The industry may be attuned to the importance of sound, however, how do the best-selling alcohol brands stack up in the sonic branding world? The amp Research & Insights team leveraged extensive desk research, social media monitoring, and AI evaluation provided by amp’s Sonic Hub® tech platform to dissect, analyze, and rank the top 50 alcohol brands by their use of music and sound (over the last 12 months) based on the top 5 brands from each sector by market share.

DOWNLOAD: amplify "The Sound of Alcohol"

An Untapped Sonic Market: Booming Brands with Muted Pours

Despite recognizing the significance of sound in advertising, the alcohol sector lays claim to very little owned music. Pilsner Urquell, with 27% owned music usage, leads the market in sonic performance and is the only best-selling brand with a sonic logo. Havana Club, Michelob Ultra, Belvedere, and Modelo round out the top 5 ranking with descending sonic scores. Beer brands performed well in the analysis, claiming 50% of the top 10 slots in the ranking. Plagued by a wildly expensive licensing habit and an uninspiring stock music dependency, the alcohol sector is primed for a long overdue investment into owned sonic assets.

Spiked Sonic, Licensing, and Sub-Sector Differentiation

This alcohol industry is composed of a plethora of sub-sectors, all delivering different experiences targeted at distinct demographics. Ranging in levels of exclusivity, brands have been crafting quality products from champagne to hard seltzer with impressive visual identities aimed at target audiences. From heritage bubbly to flashy fizz, both sub-sectors struggle in the sonic department. amp analysis found that champagne brands use a combined 90% “stock music” and “no music” in external marketing communications. This stale approach to sound leads to shockingly low brand differentiation and simply promotes the general champagne product. Similarly struggling in the sonic department, the hard seltzer industry, which once captivated consumers with brazen branding strategies, has taken a sales hit over the past year. According to amp research, hard seltzer brands utilize “no music” in 41% of their external advertisements.

While stock music may be the alcohol industry standard, being used in 43% (on average) of all content in the sector, American beer brands have a particular penchant for music licensing. US beer brands use licensed music in 36% of their content on average in an attempt to meld their product with pop culture. Despite these attempts, brand association with licensed tracks continues to be incredibly low.

Tap Takeovers and Esteemed Industry Guests

amplify “The Sound of Alcohol” features a guest editorial effort from Fabiano Latham, Global Creative Content Manager at William Grant & Sons (brands include Reyka Vodka, Grant’s Whiskey, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, Hendrick’s Gin, Milagro Tequila, and more), and a Q&A with April Quealy, Head of Creative at Legacy Marketing (clients include Absolut ELYX, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Modelo, Corona Hard Seltzer, and more). Both experts highlight how vital sound is in connecting consumers with specific alcohol brands and emphasize the importance of bottling and reproducing shared sensorial experiences in the sector.

Fabiano Latham, Global Creative Content Manager at William Grant & Sons said:

Shelves are lined with thousands of alcohol brands all jiggling and striving to stand out. The brands that harness sonic branding will undoubtedly be front of mind. Strategic use of sound can enhance authenticity and foster cognitive function by tapping into nostalgia, driving salience, and generating long-term consumer connections.

Are you looking to activate sonic branding solutions in the alcohol sector? Are you a brand or agency looking to differentiate your products in the highly competitive sector? Add the clink to your drinks and download a copy of amplify “The Sound of Alcohol” via www.ampsoundbranding.com/amplify-07 and get in touch with the team today.

Posted by Chris Bergin, AMP Sound Branding Inc.”

Posted at MediaVillage through the Thought Leadership self-publishing platform.

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