The Buyer
Tom Harvey’s 5 ways to get your gift drinks marketing right

Tom Harvey’s 5 ways to get your gift drinks marketing right

There’s only thing that can match receiving a well thought out gift – sending one. But promoting brands as a potential gift is a difficult balance to get right for drinks producers and retailers alike. Here Tom Harvey, co-founder of the YesMore Drinks Marketing Agency, shares the five steps any brand, website or retailer can take to make sure they get their drinks gift marketing right and don’t look like they are trying to exploit a commercial opportunity.

Tom Harvey
12th April 2022by Tom Harvey
posted in Opinion,

Looking to send a gift to the family or a friend this Easter? Well, take some inspiration from YesMore’s Tom Harvey’s guide to how to run the perfect drinks gifting campaign.

As the amazing son that I am, I somehow remembered to buy a gift for my mum a whole week in advance of Mother’s Day this year. This got me thinking about gifting, and specifically the marketing of gifts.

(Click below for what was voted by the British public as the most romantic advert of all time. Would you gift someone your last Rolo?)

It’s a challenge myself and my team at YesMore drinks marketing agency receive in briefs all the time, and one we’re well versed at solving. So I thought it might be helpful to share some of the learnings and considerations we have pulled together over the years..

1 Look good – make it easy for the gifter to pick your brands

Bit of a blunt one, but it’s a crucial in gifting: of all the audiences you can engage with, gifters are the least likely to have ever tasted what you’re selling. Research over the years has shown that those buying alcohol for gifts are doing so overwhelmingly on the basis of marketing, packaging and in-store drivers, rather than taste.

They’re buying for a mum who likes gin, a colleague who’s leaving, or a client who ‘likes a nice red’. They need easy cues, a clear brand story to retell, knowledgeable staff and packaging that signals to the recipient that care, thought and money went into this bottle. In fact, for a gifter, it needs to look like it cost more than it actually did.

The key to gifting is working out what makes this gifter, who perhaps knows nothing about your brand – and maybe only even vaguely knows what that recipient likes – sit up and take notice of your bottle over all the others.

Arm those buying (and receiving) gifts with stories about your brands

Gifting is tied up with stories and discovery. The purchaser wants to buy someone a treat and feel confident in their choice, even with limited information available.
The gift they buy either needs to look amazing (point 1 above), or have an interesting and relatable story / brand purpose behind it.

Think about the story and/or purpose of your brand (or those you stock) – what single sentence will the gifter tell the recipient as they give them your product?

For example, Brewgooder uses a portion of its profits to provide clean water to those that don’t have it. Lost Years Rum protects sea turtles. Dutch Barn Vodka is carbon neutral from day one and plants a tree for every email subscriber.

A beer with a purpose: Brewgooder helps to provide clean water around the world for every beer purchased

The moment of giving and receiving a gift is not actually about your brand. It’s about the reason why someone gifted your product, the emotional reaction it evokes in the recipient, and the affirmation the gifter gets from said reaction. If those are good, then your brand becomes the catalyst to a memorable moment – et voilà!

Think outside of occasions fixed to the calendar year

Whilst there are some notable drinks gifting periods associated with key dates in the year (think Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day, Christmas), it’s worth really asking yourself (or your audience) which others are worth caring about.

Are people really going to gift your products for World Gin Day? Probably not. Is National Hug A Friend Day a complete load of rubbish created by, and for, brands to fill their social feeds with stuff? Whilst Christmas and Easter are easier for brands and retailers to tap into, think about tapping into birthdays, engagements, weddings, house buying, new jobs, leaving gifts, etc.

People buying for these occasions may do so with more forethought, noting down bottles they hear about ahead of time. The life moments are more significant than Christmas and Easter, and the order value is huge.

So find ways to activate these in your marketing. Focus your calls to action around growing your following on social media or joining the mailing list for when they’re ready to buy.

(Click below for one of the videos for Ridgeview’s Bring Celebration Home campaign for Ridgeview during the pandemic)

Note, though, that some occasions not fixed to a calendar date will have associated seasons. February, Christmas and New Year are popular for proposals and engagement parties, while summer is wedding season, for example. Our Winter 2020-21 campaign for Ridgeview Wine featured an ad that tapped into the engagement season, with paid media targeting those (and their friends) who were recently engaged. We also ran ads during Christmas and New Year, but with content and paid media targeting focussed on those celebrating an often overlooked birthday at that time.

4. Give more than just a bottle – create an experience and drive social sharing too

You already know the obvious ones like including gorgeous branded glassware in a gift pack. We all get the benefits of having branded merch in consumers’ homes to remind them of the brand long after receiving it. But if your gifts work a little harder than glassware and merchandising, you’ll reap the benefits of:

1) the recipient sharing user-generated content of your brand on social media and…

2) cementing your brand into the memory of an experience.

Salcombe Gin has created a gift set that is much more than just about its gin

For example, Salcombe Gin has a gift set with Sea Mist Spray and instructions on how to use it in a recipe. This is theatre, and the brand is centre stage. And Ramsbury Distillery does a wicker picnic hamper with a beautiful mixing spoon. Others lead with the gifting of an experience like a tour, tasting or masterclass that comes with an upsell of buying a bottle afterwards. All very, very shareable and memorable.

This approach is two fold; you create an experience from the moment of receiving the gift, but also create a lasting reminder of your brand.

5. For any gifting campaign – be inclusive and avoid stereotyping

Not every man enjoys sipping scotch in front of the fire, and many women drink whisky too, y’know. You don’t have to show only women in your prosecco, pink gin and rosé campaigns. Champagne isn’t just for smartly dressed wealthy people.

Additionally, not everyone drinks alcohol and some people don’t have someone to gift on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. So consider joining the recent number of brands allowing people to opt out specifically of Mothers/Fathers day and Valentine’s Day email marketing.

Our golden rule when developing creative is to ask “are we making an assumption about the audience, and can we challenge that?”

  • To find our more about the work that YesMore does go to its website here or you can contact Tom Harvey at