Monty, Mooshagian, Garren Join Benson

To manage digital and PR projects in both Benson’s Napa and New York offices, the agency has hired three new professionals.  All three will contribute to US-based campaigns for wine brands, regions, and spirits companies. Cristen Monty joined the agency’s New York office this month. Her PR expertise was honed in New York agencies including Rubenstein PR and JMG PR. Erin Mooshagian joined the Napa office with a background in technical and freelance wine writing for a variety of outlets, as well as wine education at Domaine Carneros winery Finally, Amanda Garren also joins the Napa office; her background focuses on in-bound marketing campaigns for SaaS companies outside the wine and spirits industry.

New Office for Benson FR

Appropriately, Benson France is one of the first companies to move into Lyon’s new gourmet landmark, l’Hôtel Dieu.
If you’ve been to Lyon in the past 4-5 years, you’ll recognize the rehabilitated, historic building along the Rhone. In 2019 the building will open the Cité de la Gastronomie, which will be dedicated to all things epicurean and healthy living. The landmark building is also home to a new 5-star hotel, a number of restaurants and shops, and modern office space for a wide range of companies dedicated to food, wine and technology. It’s the new hub of Lyon and an obvious move for us.  We hope to see you soon at l’Hôtel Dieu!

O.R.E. 118 Raw Vegan Gin

Introducing: 118 + 1st Raw Vegan Gin

Benson is pleased to start working with O.R.E. 118 Raw Vegan Gin, the first spirit of its kind in the U.S. and the only spirit to be allowed a Raw Vegan claim on its Certificate of Label Approval.

The gin was launched in time for National Gin Day on June 9. While there are other vegan gins – where no animal products or by-products are used in their distillation or filtration – O.R.E. 118 is the only raw gin available in the U.S. market. The gin is “raw” because throughout its entire fermentation and distillation process it is kept below 118 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature above which many enzymes break down and foods and beverages are no longer considered raw.

This genre-defining spirit is the creation of founder Robert Elder. While dining at a raw vegan restaurant in Manhattan he requested a gin martini. Dismayed to discover that martinis were not served because there were no spirits that were both raw and vegan, he undertook to change that and established his family-run company, 118 + 1st, to produce hand-crafted, raw spirits. The name of Elder’s inaugural product, O.R.E. 118 Gin, has a double meaning: O.R.E. stands for “Original Raw Essence,” and the letters are also his father’s initials.

“You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy O.R.E. 118 Gin,” Elder says. “With its juniper, ginger and pepper notes, our gin is ideal for purists and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Still, it fills a need in the market for raw and vegan spirits. If gin is one of your favorite spirits, as it is mine, then you will love the depth of flavor and smooth finish O.R.E. 118 Gin offers, whether you are a vegan or an omnivore.”

O.R.E. 118 Gin can be found at well-known restaurants across New York City, including Nobu, Batard and Aquavit, and is currently featured on the cocktail lists at Candle 79 and Tribeca Grill. It is available for purchase at Crush Wine & Spirits and Mister Wright Fine Wine & Spirits, and is distributed by Opici Family Distributing.

Ben Palos, visiting Benson's client Kaiken in Argentina

Beyond Typical Employee Benefits: Benson’s Sabbatical Policy

By Ben Palos

Bocanáriz Wine Bar in Santiago

Bocanáriz Wine Bar in Santiago

Everyone, at least once in life, should take a few weeks to explore their interests in an environment free from the stresses of the real world. There are practical reasons people never do this. The most common excuse? “I can’t leave work for that long.”

Benson Marketing Group tackles this issue with its sabbatical policy, which is a benefit not often found at company of its size. Employees who have continuously worked at the agency for four or more years can take three weeks of paid leave to rejuvenate while stimulating creativity in an engaging environment.

I recently took my sabbatical, and—considering my passion for the wine industry—I embarked upon a wine-focused trip. I eventually landed on visiting several wine regions in central Chile and Mendoza, Argentina.

Since Benson works with two wineries in the area, Viña Montes and Bodega Kaiken, it was a good opportunity to learn about those clients in more depth and share my perspective on these wine regions with the rest of the Benson team post-trip. Just as important, I had facetime with our client contacts at the wineries.

Casa Rosada in Argentina

Casa Rosada in Argentina

Additionally, I added to my wine knowledge base and gained valuable context for the wines in these areas. I tasted Carménère everywhere I could in Chile and explored varietal wines beyond Malbec in Mendoza.

Another highlight was tasting my way through the burgeoning culinary scene of Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires. Of course, I took it upon myself to partake in non-food and wine activities like visiting local historic landmarks and attending a soccer game.

Best of all, I was able to unplug from my daily routine and accomplish the policy’s intention: “to renew energy and to provide an experience for personal enlightenment.”

And did I mention that the sabbatical can be repeated every three years after the first sabbatical is taken? I’m already brainstorming destinations for my next one!

No Ads? No Problem. How to Increase Your Instagram Following

With over 800 million active users, Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform. Instagram is of particular interest to Millennials (over half the users are under the age of 30), thus harnessing the power of Instagram is a key component to building your brand image. Inspired by Shutterstock’s recent Instagram hacks blog post, we’ve compiled a few Instagram tips of our own!

  • Follow, Follow, Follow: It’s just as important for you to consistently follow new Instagram accounts as it is to engage with your existing followers. When you follow accounts that share similar interests, aesthetics, and values you’re more likely to be followed back by these accounts and gain new fans from their bases.
  • Posting Time Matters: Sure, you can post whenever you want, but now there are tools that help you discover the optimal posting times. Use these tools to make sure your content is getting seen by the most people and on the optimal day.
  • Use Instagram Stories Wisely: Instagram Stories is not the place to just
    “throw” all the content you think is not up to your Instagram profile standards. We’ve found that Instagram Stories are essential in increasing engagement and followers. Though it sounds counterintuitive, carefully curate this spontaneous content to even more closely align your followers with your brand. However, you can let your hair down a little here and get creative with colors, stickers, and emojis. We’ve seen a threefold increase in the number of average followers acquired per month when we run Instagram Stories. Not to mention a sharp increase in impressions due to the additional content!
  • Leverage Your Influencers: Working with influencers is vital to supporting your brand’s digital presence. Ask your influencer to publish an Instagram Story featuring your brand to further leverage their followers.

Of course – this is not an exhaustive list, merely a few nuggets to get the gears turning. Without the fanning ad option that Facebook provides, you have to get a little more creative! Do you have any tips? Let us know on Twitter at @BensonMKGT or Facebook at @BensonMarketing.

BAM

Brand Awareness vs. Consumer Recommendation: Which is More Important?

If awareness is the #1 driver of brand “power,” and if awareness is driven by shelf placement, what happens to brand power if your brand isn’t on retail shelves?

This was just one of the questions inspired by Wine Intelligence’s presentation this month at Prowein 2018. CEO Lulie Halstead’s research identified and measured the effect of three criteria on brand “power”:

  1. Aided Awareness: % of wine consumers aware of a brand when shown its logo and name combination;
  2. Purchase frequency: number of times the consumer bought the brand in the last 3 months; and
  3. Recommendation rate: % consumers who would recommend it to a friend.

The rise or fall of these three criteria were measured for specific volumetric brands and, over a decade, the rise in aided awareness was dramatically higher than the rise in purchase rate and recommendation rate. Let me say that again: for successful, volumetric brands, awareness grew much faster over time than did purchase frequency and recommendation rate. In the U.S. between 2007 and 2017 Barefoot’s aided awareness rose from 27% to 71%, while its purchase frequency (31% to 37%) and recommendation rate (40% to 43%) rose more slowly.

The findings for power brands held true across thousands of consumers and 15 countries.

So what’s going on here? I’m afraid we have more questions than answers, but bear with us.

It’s not surprising that awareness drives sales. Duh. But conventional wisdom and a lot of research claims that peer-to-peer recommendations are the #1 driver of purchase, or at least intent to purchase (what people say in surveys and what they actually do can differ). Wine Intelligence’s research contradicts this notion: it claims that visibility has a larger positive effect than other factors for power brands like Yellowtail, Barefoot or Woodbridge. The other factors, purchase frequency and recommendation rate, are important but grow less than awareness does for these successful, volumetric brands.

So what drives brand awareness? At Benson, we grapple with this every day. We would posit that wine brand awareness is a function of press coverage, digital presence, advertising, shelf placement and ACV, and packaging, among other factors, and in no particular order.

Now, back to the original question: how are these drivers of awareness changing in a dynamic marketplace?

  • Imagine if 15%-20% of off-premise sales move to the home delivery model. That would decrease the potentially positive effects that shelf placement, ACV and packaging have on brand awareness, even if the delivery platforms offer brand advertising.
  • What about digital? If awareness trumps recommendations, digital spend should maximize reach and frequency at the expense of engagement (think Facebook ads versus clever boosted posts). That conclusion will be sacrilegious to many.
  • What about DTC brands? Of course, this study doesn’t directly address DTC, but it suggests what we all know: DTC brands rely very heavily on creating consumer connections, or “affinity,” as Wine Intelligence calls it.

And a final, humbling note: Even when prompted with a wine logo and name, the average number of wine brands a US consumer could identify was only 17, and for France the number was 8. Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Taken from the presentation, “Global wine brand power and consumer trends,” Lulie Halstead, CEO, Wine Intelligence. www.wineintelligence.com

Benson Speaks at Les Vignerons Indépendants de la Drôme

Our French Director, Jeanne Peron, was invited to speak at Les Vignerons Indépendants de la Drôme at Vercheny on Thursday, March 8th. She discussed how wineries can improve their image with different types of communication tools. See some of her key points below!

 

Click here for more information on Les Vignerons Indépendants de la Drôme.

What is your objective?Objectives, benefits and solutions

 

Benson France Signs Champagne Vollereaux

Located in Pierry near Epernay La Maison Vollereaux has retained Benson’s Lyon office for a Brand Messaging Plan project to further refine its position in the French market. The project will be followed by a France-based PR campaign. The sixth generation at Champagne Vollereaux is lending its own perspective and creative to a long legacy of excellence. www.champagne-vollereaux.fr

Unpacking “Advocacy Marketing”

Advocacy Marketing At Work

Is Tesla a car company, or an energy company with a car division?

How companies describe their products and services is not only important to how they are perceived, but also how they function and innovate.

We help wine and spirits companies phrase their strengths every day, and the impact on their teams and customers is thrilling to watch.

Occasionally, we turn the focus on our own company.

Early this year Benson added “Advocacy Marketing’ to our list of services. This is a common phrase among marketers but perhaps less so outside the realm of marketing geeks. Once we tried on the idea, it fit like a comfortable jacket. Here’s why.

We help create brand advocates by working with the media: journalists, bloggers and online influencers.

We also work with advocates in the professional trade by, for example, coordinating regional trips, educational seminars and private events for sommeliers, buyers and importers.

And increasingly, we orchestrate media partnerships that can combine advertorial, editorial, events and social platforms. (Wine-searcher.com did a story on this topic last month that featured how Benson helps clients target customer segments.)

But rather than dividing services strictly by audience – “this is a trade promotion Idea” or “that is a press idea”—the term “advocacy” pulls together trade and media and consumer audiences into one. So what, you say?

Well, what happens next is where it gets interesting. A simple word change is driving our agency’s mission – integrated marketing –the core of Benson’s ethos. If each of us perceives our responsibilities more broadly than trade or consumer, earned or paid media, then we can better integrate services. And integrated campaigns create better ideas, better results, and higher ROI for clients.

Changing a few words is knocking down mental walls, and already sprouting new ideas and perspectives. Immediately, our team thought of promotional ideas that will help both our clients and influencer contacts. We discussed new processes and the systems that can empower those ideas. We will report on some of these results in the following months.

NB: To answer the first question, Tesla’s stated mission is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” See their website.

Billecart-Salmon: 200 Years of Independence, Family Expertise

In 2018, Champagne Billecart-Salmon will celebrate its 200th anniversary by meeting champagne aficionados in five global capitals. Benson is proud to help this family-run company share its modern vision for the future. The year will be punctuated by a series of collaborative events and activities, including exclusive tasting events in New York and Los Angeles with rare cuvees and Michelin-starred chefs.