Marta Polakow-Stepanow: Summer is the most important season of the year in terms of sales and communication of beverage brands

Marta Polakow-Stepanow, strategist at Tailor Made PR – an agency responsible for eg the communication of the brands Lech Free, Tymbark and Żywiec Zdrój. The latter is about to launch a new campaign – this time with the participation of a famous actor.

Summer is a time of increasing demand for water, sweet soft drinks and beer. How are drink brands trying to reach the public during this period? What characterizes their summer promotion campaigns and what values ​​do they place the greatest emphasis on?

The beverage market in Poland accounts for about 9% of the total FMCG market in terms of sales, which is a very large share, and summer is the most important season of the year in terms of sales and communication. The market faced a major challenge in 2021, namely the introduction of the sugar tax, which affected product prices and changes in the producer portfolio. In addition, the pandemic has affected the expectations of consumers, who today pay more attention to health aspects in their lives, analyze product compositions and verify long-term consequences.

There is not one golden idea for a soft drink campaign, because every producer tries to distinguish itself with a unique product advantage. Yet summer is about emotions, friendships, love, travelling, travelling, vacations, music, fun… And a story is built around these topics and trends. This is especially true for beers and the so-called CSD (approx. carbonated soft drinks), ie sweet carbonated drinks. If we were to name the most common product benefit emphasized in these types of campaigns, it is the taste of fruit and refreshment that most of us look for in the summer.

In turn, water producers base their communication on rational aspects related to proper hydration of the body and keeping it in good condition. And here there are products that communicate both emotions and rational benefits. One of these products is Żywiec Zdrój Mocny Gaz – communication “Co you know about refreshment”, based on emotions, summer fun, good comic humor, that is, as with CSD, but with a rational twist to a natural, pure composition without sugar . The second is Lech Free Active – non-alcoholic beer, the communication of which is built within the emotional platform “Lechendy I can do everything”, but with a rational advantage of hydration.

What are the main marketing activities and communication channels of these brands?

Drinks are communicated in full 360 campaigns, i.e. full media, from TV, through OOH, digital, through events – especially in the alcohol industry – to influencer marketing and PR activities in the media. Of course there is also support in the field of communication in the store, on the store shelf and with sales promotions. Summer is harvest time for drinks, so marketing activities are the crème de la crème for many brands at that time.

Who are drink brands especially trying to reach in the summer? Is their marketing communication mainly aimed at the young generation?

It depends on the brand and segment. Sweet carbonated drinks are positioned differently, based on emotional and playful communication, where the health problem is not important, and carbonated water with fruits, where the topic of natural refreshment with a pure composition becomes the most important. In the first case, the messages are addressed to young people, and in the second case, the most important variable is awareness, behavior, values ​​that guide the consumer in life, and not age itself. Of course, when we analyze groups in media research, greater awareness often goes hand in hand with older age, but this is not a rule to be followed. It’s worth checking groups for behavior, not demographics.

What are the biggest challenges to reach the target group and distinguish yourself from the competition in the – still growing – beverage market?

In an ideal world you would like to have a new product for every season, a new flavor variant that is even better, even more surprising than those already on the market. Then such a novelty becomes a communication and sales engine for the entire portfolio. However, we do not always have this comfort – the portfolio cannot always change, and communication activities must be carried out so as not to lose the season. Then the key is a creative idea and its good adaptation in all touchpoints to create a homogeneous, understandable campaign that will attract crowds.

Can it be said that collaboration with influencers is a major trend in summer drink brand communication?

With influencers you can add storytelling to any campaign in a beautiful way. What we can’t close in a 15 second or 30 second TV spot, what we can’t fit in a 6 second YouTube bumper, we can reliably develop in Influencer channels. Today it is difficult to imagine a campaign without their support.

How do music festivals fit into the summer promotion of drink brands? Does this method of promotion effectively attract consumers?

Festivals are one of those topics that are inextricably linked when we think of summer, and at the same time, it is one of the most effective ways to put beer brands in the media and influencer channels. The Meskie Granie and Lech Polish Hip-Hop Music Awards are the in-house initiatives of companies that recognize the enormous communication potential of music. From my point of view, it’s always a win-win option: for the development of culture, music and art, it’s a huge cash injection, and for a brand – a cool, less product-based way to appear in the minds of consumers.

What other latest trends can be seen in the beverage market?

The most interesting phenomenon for me this year is the entry of a producer of non-alcoholic beverages into the segment of non-alcoholic beers – we are talking about Tymbark, which introduced a hop-based drink. In recent years we have witnessed beer brands creating new interesting flavors of non-alcoholic beers that taste like oranges, not beers.

A visible trend in the product segment cheap is to emphasize the price-performance of the product in communication. It is undoubtedly influenced by inflation and the fact that many families are looking for savings in their daily lives, and sweet drinks are not a necessary product.

Until a few years ago, communication about non-alcoholic beer brands was mainly aimed at women. How has the perception of this product changed in recent years and who are the consumers of such drinks today?

The image of non-alcoholic beer has changed as the product has become universal for many. In recent years, Lech Free has changed the image of the entire category and built the democratic character of the product on the slogan “Lechendy can do anything”. In terms of communication, there is no reference to gender, but to the way of life. If you want to be free, have no restrictions, you can do everything – you reach for alcohol-free beer and keep the taste, emotions and the lack of percentages allows everything that is ahead of you. Today, non-alcoholic beers are not seen as non-masculine and even make men more responsible and balanced.

About the interviewee:

Marta Polakow-Stepanow, image communication expert with 20 years of experience, 12 years co-owner of the Tailor Made PR agency. In recent years, she has developed communication strategies for many brands in the non-alcoholic beverage segment, such as Żywiec Zdrój, Lech Free, Tymbark, Herbapol.

Leave a Comment