What’re the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your role as Head of Marketing, especially this year?
My biggest challenge this year has been supporting my team through the rollercoaster of the pandemic, and trying to develop brand plans for our premium spirits brands for execution in different markets around the world which have been affected in very different ways and at different times. We have had to pivot activity towards Digital a lot, especially as the on trade & hospitality industries have been so badly affected, and people have socialised and bought alcohol online on a scale never seen before!
How is the field likely to develop in the future – what trends and developments do you see in the horizon?
Digital will of course continue to develop rapidly, with many brands used to marketing through ‘bricks & mortar’ channels turning more and more to virtual experiences and ways to bring their brands to life online – something many have learnt to do in the pandemic, and will stay long after. However on the flipside of that, people still want experiences and to feel close to brands ‘in real life’, and we’ll see brands getting more creative with experiential marketing, events, and sampling in ways which can then translate into sales either online or instore. Premiumisation will also be a continuing trend, as people seek to ‘buy less and buy better’, with sustainability becoming a pre-requisite for any successful premium brand.
What’s the next big thing for International Beverage?
For us, our focus is on building our premium spirits portfolio globally – the UK will always be important to us as the home of our brands, but winning in China, USA and Eastern Europe offers huge opportunity. This means developing ourselves as global marketers, learning how to build strong brands which can ‘think global / act local’ to use the old phrase!
What keeps you inspired?
My team, our great agencies who support, challenge and push us, and our brands themselves – I always think that we are merely the temporary guardians of our wonderful malt whisky brands, some of which have been around for 200+ years – I never failed to be inspired by a visit to any of our distilleries, speaking to the teams there who are so dedicated to their craft, and remembering that our job is to curate these brands today in a way which keeps them going for hundreds of years to come. A real privilege!