Alcohol Marketing during Covid-19 - Brand Activate

How to Reinvent Alcohol Marketing during Covid-19

Aug 27, 2020

The adult beverage industry has always been on the forefront of brand activation. Beer, wine and liquor brands have led in-person engagement for decades, from on- and off-premise sampling to immersive brand experiences. When it comes to alcohol marketing, in-person is a tried and true method to gain market share and build brand fans.

It would be an understatement to say that Covid-19 has dramatically impacted consumer sampling and on/off premise account support. We do not know when consumers will once again have the opportunity to taste or be introduced to new products or offerings in the marketplace. And brands are racing to understand how to navigate this new landscape.

At Brand Activate we have accepted these challenges head on, standing strong with our clients, accounts, and brand ambassadors. It’s time to reinvent how we approach both product and alcohol marketing and create new opportunities.

How to Get Alcohol Marketing Right during Covid-19

As states and counties update social distancing guidelines and people begin to re-engage, there is an opportunity to impact consumers and trade through support, creativity, and cooperation. At Brand Activate, we’ve created a playbook for a go-to-market strategy that can encompass a mix of the execution ideas we’ve tested. Each can be developed and fully customized based on the product or retailer, and each can help brands up their alcohol marketing game in our new reality.

Here are examples of executions that have shown to be successful in the past and will work in a Covid world. Brand Activate also include instructions on how to support accounts, make an impact with consumers, and provide meaningful work opportunities to contract workers out in the field.


Channel: On and Off Premise


  • Recruit a team of sommeliers or brand ambassadors who can lead a tasting
  • When the brand is purchased the customer is given a card with details on where to sign up for a virtual tasting or cocktail session
  • The sommelier or tasting guide is notified of the request, a tasting date is confirmed, and the consumer is invited to share the experience with friends
  • Program can be offered to specific chain or independent accounts, with their desired customization


Channel: On Premise

Social distancing means no more standing at the bar, so some customers may decide to forgo the restaurant experience and instead opt for continued carry out.

By working with accounts to create the tools for to-go cocktails, you’re not only increasing visibility, you’re also showing support for those who are supporting you.


  • Part time or full-time bran ambassadors will visit accounts to present the turnkey cocktail kit program
  • If the account features the brand in a to-go cocktail, the account is provided with items needed for consumer cocktail kits
  • Items are kitted in advance and delivered to the account for a simple, turnkey execution


  • Branded materials such as: Glassware, coasters, shakers, garnishes


Channel: On and Off Premise

Retailers and their staff have worked around the clock to stock your products and assist consumers. When most people were safe at home, they continued to keep customer’s glasses full.

Show accounts that your brand stands with them by helping the staff feel protected and thanking them for all the work they do to support your brand.


  • Create a gift box with branded items and PPE gear


  • Gloves, masks, sanitation wipes, tees, hats, gloves for staff to take home or use on-site.


Channel: Off Premise

As more states begin to reopen and foot traffic ramps up, staff and consumers will be less protected, but you can change that. Keep everyone safer by offering PPE gear to those working and shopping in the account.


  • Create branded social distancing markers for inside and outside the store
  • Create branded display pieces that offer masks or gloves upon entry in the store and provide the first round of PPE gear to the account
  • Create branded signs with social distancing guidelines



Channel: Off Premise

We know people at home are perfecting their mixology skills, so let’s help them create delicious cocktails worthy of an Instagram post. Increase your brand awareness at the point of purchase and across social media.


  • Set up a display in front of the store that invites consumer engagement
  • Create the in-home experience by offering POS and custom garnishes that can be used to make the perfect picture worthy cocktail
  • Include social media accounts and hashtags with a call to action to share their creations


  • Ensure all county, city, and state Covid-19 guidelines are followed. Additional items to consider:
    • Meet social distancing guidelines
    • DO NOT impact the in-store capacity restrictions
  • Opportunity to create and offer custom pre-packaged garnishes and recipe cards

Let’s Get Back to Work

Changes to consumer marketing programs and account sales programs are needed to traverse this new marketplace. The above go-to-market plans provide opportunities to motivate purchasing while keeping wellness the top priority for staff and consumers.  

While this conversation is focused on alcohol marketing, these principles are applicable across the board to other products and in other settings. Were here to help brainstorm and help you get back to market!  Reach out and let’s start a conversation.