Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve published several posts parceling out insights and data from our inaugural Digital IQ Index: Spirits study. We’ve shared how the celebrity endorsement can drive social engagement and sales; we’ve lamented the lack of effort among Spirits brands to cultivate customer loyalty on their digital platforms; and we’ve also highlighted the innovative digital strategies of the study’s only three Geniuses. One topic we’ve touched on in each of these posts is the role of mobile and how, just like in every other vertical, it is the platform of the future for both brands and fans. For the Spirits industry, in particular, where the vast majority of purchases are still on-the-go at bars, restaurants, liquor stores and supermarkets, an active mobile presence is crucial. Given the increasingly multi-channel trend in shopping — where buyers use their smartphones/tablets to aid the research process in-store — integrating mobile with brick and mortar is the direction of the future.

 

In our research, we found that only one-third of the 69 Spirits brands in this year’s Index offer a mobile-optimized site. This, compared to two-thirds of the luxury brands analyzed in our Prestige 100®: Mobile study, released a year ago. Despite the fact that smartphones are rendering laptops and desktops almost completely useless, five Spirits brands’ don’t even have sites viewable on an iOS device due to Flash. Upwards of 50 percent of mobile search queries have local intent, yet two-thirds of the Spirits industry is opting out of the chance to help lead consumers to purchase their products or engage at the point of consumption.

 

When it comes to apps, Spirits brands have presence on both iOS and Android, though the Apple platform is by far the most popular with more than half of brands maintaining an iPhone app. In these apps, with varying levels of creativity, brands typically provide retailers’ contact information, product details and directions to proximate points of purchase. Most also include some sort of interactive, gamified feature: Sailor Jerry’s virtual tattoo creator and tattoo artist finder and Jack Daniel’s ‘Bar Call‘ (which expedites ordering Jack in a crowded bar) are two of the most memorable.

 

By 2016, global mobile ad spending is predicted to reach $37 billion. Advances in real-time bidding, location-based ads, higher connection speeds, and overall usage,  marketers across verticals recognize that the future is mobile. A minority of brands in the industry have already embraced this evolution and are investing heavily in mobile. Beam Inc., for example, recently tapped an outside agency solely to manage its mobile search ads. A handful of brands, including Hennessy, Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Maker’s Mark, and Jim Beam, have all invested in ads on Spotify’s very popular mobile app as well.

 

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