Why celebrity brands matter to retailers - opinion

Whatever your preconception about celebrity owned, backed or fronted drinks brands, one thing is clear: they’re big business. But why? Tom Harvey, co-founder of YesMore drinks marketing agency, shares advice for retailers and celebrity-backed drinks brands

Steven Soderbergh, Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Not just the A-list director and stars of Oceans 11, but also all backers of drinks brands. 

Clooney has Casamigos tequila, Pitt co-owns celebrated winery Miraval, and Soderbergh has Singani 63, a brand of niche (if you’re not Bolivian) grape spirit. Celebrity drinks brands are big business. 

Kylie, Ian Botham, Graham Norton and Philip Schofield all now have their own wines. But should drinks retailers pay any special attention to these drinks with A- (or even D-) list backing? Here are some of the main things to consider for those looking into the vast range of products in the celeb drinks market. 

CELEBS ARE A READY-FORMED BRAND 

A celebrity brand is, in many ways, the same as any other – except the pre-existing audience is large and brand-loyal already. It also means the timeline from consumer awareness to purchase is much faster than any other start-up. 

And so, a lot of the non-marketing questions for drinks retailers considering taking on a new listing are similar to any other product…

BUT WITH ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE 

Celebrities can be polarising. Some people love them, while others don’t. Pick wisely and, while doing due diligence, ensure celeb-backed brands are compliant with ASA and Portman Group rules for influencer marketing. 

For example, if they post on social media, then 75% or more of their audience needs to be of legal drinking age. They also (officially) need to use the #ad hashtag when promoting their product, even if they’re saying “find it in Tesco”. 

Additionally, a celebrity isn’t always a well-behaved brand ambassador. So, retailers with celebrity-backed listings should ensure they’re ready to react fast to both good and bad news stories about the celeb. 

HOW INVOLVED IS THE CELEBRITY IN THE BRAND? 

Consider how heavily involved the celebrity behind the brand will be. Does the brand have a heritage already behind it (as with Pitt/Jolie and Miraval) with minimal input from them as a silent partner? Or does it only exist because of the celebrity? Will they splash the brand all over their social media channels and feature in the marketing too - as with Ryan Reynolds and Aviation gin? Or pull in all their celebrity and influencer mates like Charlie Sloth and AU vodka? 

There can be direct ways for retailers to benefit from this, aside from a general sales halo effect. You might not get Angelina Jolie to stand outside Asda and support a product listing, but you might get Ian Botham. How much does that sort of thing matter to you as a brand or retailer? 

IT’S A HUGE MARKET WITH SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE, AND BENEFITS FOR THOSE WHO GET IT RIGHT 

While in the past it might have seemed that only playboy rappers had their own drinks brands, the celebrity drinks market is now vast. It’s almost certain that there is some crossover between celeb-owned/backed brands and your consumers. 

So, it’s an area worth looking into, as celebrity products can be a fun and accessible way to generate sales and product interest, with the right listings.

 

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