The brand has created a number of mobile applications linked to services, among them the chance to obtain free cocktails and enter for competitions. The basic aim is to appeal to young urbanites.

Pernod-Ricard Betting on Mobile Apps to Win Over Customers

Wines and spirits giant Pernod-Ricard is turning to new channels and new tools in its sales and customer relations activities – mainly investing in mobile content and services. The company has recently launched the Drinkspiration app, based on the Absolut Vodka brand, which is designed to inform, entertain and help customers discover new cocktails. It suggests several different recipes to suit your tastes, your mood and even your favourite colours.  Catherine Ertzscheid, a Social Media and Community Management Consultant, argues that “it’s imperative for brands to start using mobile applications in order to interact with their customers and prospects.” This is even more vital when one of your customer segments is young urban people. She sees the Drinkspiration application as a good model, since its starting point is the consumer and his/her wishes - rather than alcohol - which helps to give the brand more appeal. Pernod-Ricard has also developed a social music app called NightTag, which enables users to take a photograph while its music recognition software identifies the song playing at the venue and the GPS in the mobile device pinpoints the exact location. All the information captured can then be posted on Facebook.

Entertainment and promotional apps

But then if the app is to work well, avoiding frustration among customers, there needs to be a real network effect. Catherine Ertzscheid reckons Pernod-Ricard should have started by asking customers which sites they use, and should then have integrated the app into an already existing platform. That would save the user the trouble of setting up yet another account, and the company would have been spared investment in a platform that is not particularly innovative and might therefore find it hard to attract new customers. However, the brand has also built an application that creates a link with drinks consumption venues by sending geo-located messages to people in the vicinity of one of the Be@1 bars in London which Pernod-Ricard partners. “They receive an SMS with a voucher that can be exchanged at the bar for a free cocktail and lets them enter a competition to win tickets for an Absolut event to be held in October,” Tim Cunningham, Digital and Media Director at Pernod-Ricard,explained to L’Atelier. This strategy is perhaps less likely to prove a winner.

Digital approach at point of sale

Catherine Ertzscheid feels that this is a rather risky move, since customers might find the company’s chosen approach too intrusive. She thinksPernod-Ricard ought to betrying to draw the consumer into a more active situation where s/he can experience something that creates more of a link between brand and customer. Still, this latest initiative is nonetheless an interesting step towards using digital channels to enhance the customer’s experience at the point of sale. “Digital channels give us an opportunity to establish lasting relationships with customers who wish to buy premium brands,” explains Thierry Billot, Managing Director for brands at Pernod-Ricard, adding:“We’re experimenting at the point of sale, and this could be an avenue we would wish to develop further in future.” He feels that as yet the company has not done enough to reach customers inside bars, clubs and retail outlets through targeted digital promotions. Watch this space.