Industry Intelligence Report: London Cocktail Week 2018

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Industry Intelligence Report: London Cocktail Week 2018

Cocktails have a powerful hold over the UK drinks industry with 1 in 5 of us opting for cocktails when out drinking with friends. The array of flavours, shapes, sizes, garnishes and pure possibilities borne from cocktails continually stretches the creativity of bar professionals, and the appetites of drinkers.

London Cocktail Week (LCW) arrived in the capital at the start of this month. As one of the biggest drinks festivals in Europe the week proved the significance of cocktail drinking in todays entertainment and drinks culture. Despite coinciding with 60,000 UK consumers taking a pledge to abstain from alcohol this month as part of the social movement ‘Go Sober for October’, over 30,000 guests flocked to join this one city celebration of cocktails. If more evidence is needed, last year top London cocktail bar White Lyan reported a 50% increase in revenue in the weeks before, during and after the festival. Cocktail culture is extremely impactful and brands that understand how best to fit in this sector will reap commercial and cultural success. 

Open to both trade and consumers, DrinkUp.London’s annual celebration is jam-packed days of international bar collaborations, pop-ups, masterclasses, brand activations and specially discounted cocktails from over 300 participating bars. The festival hub ‘The Cocktail Village’ showcases 40 different creative brand experiences.

Assembling both major and small drinks brands, top international bartenders, hundreds of London’s best cocktail bars and tens of thousands of consumers, LCW offered unique insight into the cocktail trends with the power to shape the future of the industry. Wonderworks spent the week soaking this up.

The following report is a collation of our observations, analyses and commentaries from our exploration of the week. We explain what we believe are the key cocktail trends set to determine drinking habits, business and branding in the year ahead. As we know that successful brands are those that continually adapt to the changing needs, motivations and expectations of audiences driving trends. 

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Wonderworks Trend Report: Legal Cannabis

In the last decade legal cannabis has risen to be on the verge of becoming a global mainstream product. As the floodgates of legalisation are set to open, cannabis is offering both an opportunity and a challenge to the alcoholic drinks industry.

Get the Wonderworks Trend Report:

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Cocktails in the City Summer 2018

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Cocktails in the City returned to London for the second time this year for their Summer Edition, so we went along to soak up the sunshine and enjoy a drink or two in a cocktail lover's paradise!

Cocktails in the City hosted twenty-four of the city’s award-winning bars in the beautiful Bedford Square Gardens, for a consumer facing Summer fete type event. Each bar partnered up with a spirit, which they would use as a base for a signature cocktail, and all had a non-alcoholic drink on the menu. Included in your entry ticket was a free drinks token which could be used at any one of the bars. It’s a yes from us!

It was nice to see a variety of drinks on the cards including gin, whisky, tequila, rum, vodka and non-alcoholic beverages.

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Our eyes were instantly drawn to Mr Fogg’s potting shed, which was decorated with gardening tools on the wall, a fan that had a hibiscus and lavender spray to cool off sticky Londoners, and they were also giving punters the chance to grow their own hibiscus seeds at home. They partnered up with Oxley Gin to produce their signature cocktail, ‘Britain in a bottle’, which was aptly aligned with the recently booming trend of pre-batched cocktails! 

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The bar that grabbed our attention was Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, who brought the beautiful aesthetic of their greenhouse building to this outdoor space. Serving their St. Germain cocktails in a botanical wonderland, once you had been served your refreshing (and of course, aesthetically pleasing) cocktail, you could get your best poses ready for a photoshoot on their beautiful swing. We did just that!

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Whilst exploring each of the multitude of the bars on show, we found ourselves stopping at the British Themed picnic put on by Cahoots who had partnered up with Ketel One Vodka to serve their signature cocktail “Picnic Plonk” and had a fun interactive photobooth. 

As well as a variety of al fresco cocktails, there were interactive experiences such as the new tasting rooms journey hosted by 31DOVER.com and ‘Be the Bartender’ cocktail making classes hosted by TT Liquor, a cool East London drinks emporium. TT Liquor brought the fun with four cocktail making classes where consumers could choose to partake in making the Snow Leopard vodka fizz, Maker’s Mark bourbon juleps, Brugal 1888 rum daiquiri’s, and Courvoisier cognac frappe’s. 

Other brands that stood out for us were Cocktail Trading Co and their partners Moët & Chandon, who hosted an Imperial Ice Cream Parlour complete with blow up rubber dinghies! Barrio brought the retro vibe with their brightly coloured stand and Havana Club Pink Elephant cocktails, not forgetting their silent disco.

There were some bars that we felt could have done more to draw their consumers in. The stand for Mint Gun Club with Belvedere Vodka was rather unimpressive and underwhelming, as they had replaced the traditional bar with a 'minimalist' table. We were a big fans of Ford’s Gin, but felt that Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour could have made their stand more special, possibly with serving some dim sum!

The cocktail culture seemed to show no sign of waning as Londoners sipped on their drinks amongst a kaleidoscope of cocktail stands; what a way to spend a magical Summer’s evening.

 

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Mindful Drinks Festival 2018

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The team at Club Soda hosted the second Summer Mindful Drinking Festival last weekend, and we went along to soak it all up.

Having enjoyed the event last year, we were keen to see how the no & low movement is growing – and the answer is a lot! The 2018 edition was bigger, slicker and more of the big boys on show; albeit balanced nicely with new comers and independent producers. The key sponsors were Heineken, Eisberg and Ceders with support from over 40 brands spanning sodas, mixers, kombucha, syrups and soft drinks plus beers and non-alcoholic botanical ‘gins’.

If Imbibe was Gin, Gin, Gin – the Mindful Drinking Festival was Botanics, Botanics and Chili …oh and some Cayenne thrown in for good balance!

Spitalfields Market proved a great space for this kind of small, consumer-facing friendly ‘drinks’ farmers market. The sun was shining and the relaxed vibe meant everyone could make the most of the scattered striped deckchairs, numerous sand filled old style suitcases with buckets and spades with punters being serenaded by a revolving selection of solo guitar playing singers. Attendees were anything from 16 – 60+ and being low or no alcohol, a forum for families and younger teens etc. 90% of samples were given out in thimble sized plastic cups which were plentiful, but sadly no free sample bottles!

Ceders wins our vote for ‘best stand and all-round experience’. Founders Craig and Maria were on hand and had created a cool tent stand dressed with floor cushions, plants, flowers and hosted by a team of friendly and informative staff. Whilst Heineken’s stand was simple, clean and basic as an almost ‘anti-branding’ approach, Eisberg’s was a bit random and unimpressive with a black, lack lustre cloth back drop.

Southwark based Nix and Kix continue to impress with their execution and is definitely an independent brand to watch; recently covered in the Stylist magazine. Their range consists of three products, all laced with cayenne; mango and ginger, peach and vanilla and cucumber and mint.  They have achieved solid distribution in the off-trade via Tesco, Selfridges, Waitrose and Ocado. Scaling up will be the next challenge for this brand we think.

Caliente – ‘a new kind of kick’ – is a Swedish owned brand we found delightful. We chatted to the founder, Thomas Adner, who was friendly and informative. Their drinks are chili based with varying kicks from Plum Rosemary (our favourite), Cranberry and Pomegranate , Ginger and Lime, Blueberry and Lemongrass. The adult alternative soft drinks marketplace is quickly growing and becoming more diverse with new players entering all the time – we wish this brand well in their endeavour to crack the UK consumer market!

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Other notables for striking brand presence are Borrago (spirit), Fierce Tonic (roses, cinchona bard, spruce), Pimento, Old Mount cider and Punch 4% and 0% Rum Punch.

Overall, a fascinating and enjoyable visit, inspiring stuff and we truly admire the eulogising entrepreneurs in this space. We are starting to wonder how much room/shelf space there is for this ongoing trend and potential saturation of these start up botanical and chili brands is clearly a threat. That said – survival of the fittest is an age old adage. And the fittest in this market will be the brand who gets the right mix of great product, distribution, well placed positioning coupled with stand out brand storytelling and visual comms that plays into this newly formed landscape.

Conscious drinking is a trend that is here to stay and a lifestyle choice for many and we are excited to see where it leads next.

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Wonderworks Summer 2018: The Graffitti Workshop

  WONDERMAKERS!  From left to right: (Back Row) Hilary, Miranda, Sean, Kieran, Ivo, Alex G, James, Sophia, Joanne, Alex J, Lucy, (Front Row) Rita, Sarah R, Helen, Sarah WK

WONDERMAKERS! From left to right: (Back Row) Hilary, Miranda, Sean, Kieran, Ivo, Alex G, James, Sophia, Joanne, Alex J, Lucy, (Front Row) Rita, Sarah R, Helen, Sarah WK

Summer was in full swing and the day we had all been excited for was finally here, it was the Wonderworks team day out.

We were told to meet at The Magic Roundabout in Old Street station, where we would be taking part in a workshop for which we knew we had to be comfortably dressed. At this point this was all we knew.  Could it be an outdoor activity? Could it involve cocktail making? Did we need to pack trainers? So, naturally, trainers were packed, just in case!

We were met at the entrance of The Magic Roundabout and taken up a secret staircase in the middle of Old Street tube station. In just a few minutes we would find out what we would be sprinkling our wonder on! As we walked in, our eyes were met with two giant canvases... 

...Yes! We were going to be doing something creative. Next to the canvases were Tim and Eddie who introduced themselves as graffiti artists who would be leading our workshop. We got into our blue and white overalls, put on our mouth masks and our gloves. It was time to get our creative juices flowing!

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Our two design team ladies, Rita and Sarah, were team captains and in charge of picking their team! 

We had a training session first where Tim and Eddie taught us how to master the art of how to spray the perfect line. This is not as easy as it sounds! Once we had perfected that we were able to move on to squares. We learnt how important it was to create your shape, fill it in with a different colour and then only outline with a bolder colour once you’re done.

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Once we had perfected our barcode masterpieces, it was time to get our real artistic flair on! Both teams captured the wonder in their artwork. Both teams based their artistic expression on the word ‘Wonder’. What a total coincidence! There was team ‘Wonda’, which was filled with lots of beautiful colours, not forgetting peace and love sprinkled on the canvas. Team ‘Wonder’ was packed with fruits, flowers and cocktails. 

By the end of the workshop we would have found two surprise Wondermaker graffiti artists, both Alex G (team ‘Wonder’) and Hilary (team ‘Wonda’) were complete naturals! 

We had such a wonderful day spreading wonder all round, once we had finished graffitiing (creating masterpieces!) we settled down for burgers and beers at Burger Bear. 

 

See gallery below for more images from our workshop!

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IMBIBE 2018

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The 2018 edition of Imbibe was once again an entertaining afternoon of all things drinks! This year the sun shined, and the ‘Garden’ was a welcome addition – especially with Southern Comfort serving free fried chicken and cocktails!

 

Here are our top 5 observations from the show:

The ‘Gin Boom’ is going nowhere; And now we have ‘Mixer Wars’

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The growing theme over the last few years of Imbibe Live has been more, more and even more gin brands! This year was no exception, with botanicals galore from the well-established to the independents. 

Sipmith showed up in a bigger way than ever before, no doubt as a result of investment from Beam Suntory in the last year, but the big mainstream brands were noticeably absent. However, there was no shortage of gin for sampling and it’s clear that in a sea of gin a unique positioning, striking bottle & label and an engaging story are needed more that ever to stand out. Although it has to be said there is a move away from copper everything, with some of the newer brands such as Gin Bilogico Toscano standing out by pairing back the branding. 

And of course, where there is G you need T. Fevertree may be the ‘best’, as their fully booked Masterclass would suggest, but there are no shortage of premium, and now ultra-premium tonics nipping at their heels. Double Dutch, Three Cent’s, Longtail and The Original Tonic Water were all there; and Schweppes and Britvic each had a larger, if underwhelming, presence. But gold star on this occasion goes to The London Essence Company (not just because they are our Clients!) with their outside Gin Bar which was not only stylish but serving tasty and very popular drinks to a crowd enjoying the sunshine.

 

The latest take on multi-sensorial tasting

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Multi-sensorial tasting is not a new thing, and there have been many, many attempts to reinvent it. The Pernod Beats team (the new name for the Pernod Brand Ambassador network) hosted a popular masterclass using multi-sensorial activities for tasting the Jameson range. Not only was it well executed, but those that took part were wholly engaged, and looked extremely fetching with their headphones and eye masks! Kudos to the team that put this on for knowing that by hosting something so clearly visibly intriguing punters, sorry the trade, just have to stop, ask questions, and take part.

 

What – there is no alcohol in that spirit?!

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With a surge of non-alcoholic ‘adult’ drinks offering coming onto the market it was no surprise to see more players this year at Imbibe Live. 

On the ‘spirits’ side was Sea Arch, Boraggo and Cedar’s, all with their own take on zero alcohol ‘gin’ type liquid. Sampling of these liquids is essential – you just can’t really imagine the taste, or really understand what it is without first tasting, and then having a knowledgeable and passionate person explain to you just what it is you are drinking. And Boraggo got this right. With a well-executed stand, great support printed material to take away, and an engaging team passionate about the liquid. 

And building on the success of last year, the Big Drop non-alco beer team had an impactful presence and curiously good tasting liquid. 

With the categories blurring I am going to mention the growing number of adult soft drinks in this section. Adult sodas, sparkling coconut water, herb drinks….. all with their own botanical back-drop are growing in number.  

This year Imbibe Live recognised the growing trend by hosting a number of seminars dedicated to it. It was a surprise to us that the trade in general seemed to be still largely educated on quality non-alcoholic drinks offerings – so clearly, watch this space!

 

Free chicken – a winner every time

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Southern Comfort had the biggest impact of any spirit at this years Imbibe. Three simple, great tactics to learn from here to ensure great standout and engagement at a busy trade show.

  • Give away food – free chicken ensured not only a very, very tasty smell, but also huge buzz around the bar
     
  • Give away things, but make them good things – every other head at the show was adorned with a Southern Comfort trucker cap. And those that weren’t sported a pair of yellow Savannah cider sunglasses on them. Indeed, many had both!
     
  • Be authentic – this particular bar, drinks, food and branding could only have been pulled off well by Southern Comfort; London’s take on the Deep South not only made folk take notice, but I would suggest push them to reconsider this brand.
     

Cool bars make for cool bars

 

Some stands go too far, some just don’t go far enough. There were lots of examples of stands that just confused us as to what the brand/product was, and equally as many that looked like they hadn’t really tried.

But those that remembered that they are beverage products and built a trade show home for themselves that felt like a bar, stood out for the right reasons. From a US Liquor store, to a Pol Roger Lodge, there were several examples of bars that people just wanted to sit at, sample drinks and soak up the vibe. And as a crowd attracts a crowd this means high-engagement.

Cheers!

 

Check out more images from our Imbibe 2018 visit:

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Wonderworks Trend Report: The Rise Of Pink Gin

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Wonderworks Trend Report: The Rise Of Pink Gin

Pink Gin has seen an extraordinary revival in recent years, taking over our bars, hearts and social media feeds along the way. As some of the most influential gin brands launch their own Pink Gin expressions, we set out to investigate what makes this spirit so successful and if it is really here to stay.  

Download the Wonderworks trend report PDF by clicking on the button below: 

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The Creative Coffee Category

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Speciality coffee consumption is on the up. A global market review and forecast conducted by Mordor intelligence suggests that roughly 55% of the retail coffee market's spend was expected to go to speciality coffee in 2017; quite a hefty chunk.

The reason for this is likely driven by two key factors. Firstly, the general trend across consumer culture is leaning towards quality rather than value for money, so whilst the consumer may not be drinking as much, they are willing to spend more to get the quality of product they are after. Secondly, the growing millennial population are consuming more and more coffee, and with increased interest from this age demographic comes increased demand for a creative, innovative product.

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Starbucks Secret Menu – The Rise of the Frappuccino

Launched in 2012, the unofficial Starbucks Secret Menu is the millennial coffee enthusiast’s stuff of dreams. Frappuccinos seem to be the main attraction of the website, with its own dedicated section and over five different Frappuccino collections making it into their ‘Top 10’s’ category.

The most popular drinks within the Frappuccino category are those that are mythically themed; with examples including the Mermaid, Dragon, Narwhal, Unicorn, and most recently the Zombie. Half of the appeal of these drinks is their garish, colourful appearance, which lends them to being the perfect ‘instagrammable’ drink. It’s easy to see why millennial coffee drinkers are jumping on the bandwagon of the themed Frappuccino craze, as if you haven’t posted it on your Instagram, did it even happen?

The website itself is actually very informative, with recipes attached to each individual drink, and information regarding the availability of ingredients in different stores. The ‘Secret’ aspect of the website is based around customer/barista invention; with barista’s trying new recipes on customer request, or creating new drinks for certain events / times of the year such as valentine’s day.

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Cold Brew Coffee on Tap

Cold coffee is not a new phenomenon, in fact it’s been doing the rounds in the form of iced lattes and coffee based frappuccinos for a good few years now. Cold brew coffee, coffee brewed with cold water for 12+ hours, was all the rage in 2014, thanks to its less acidic taste and fuller body. However, the idea of cold brew coffee on tap is a more recent development, and one that is currently creating quite a lot of noise on the coffee scene.

What does the tap do to the coffee other than pour it into a cup? A fair question, and certainly a significant one. Importantly, the tap is used to carbonate the coffee, but not in the standard way. Rather than using Co2, brewers have started using nitrogen to carbonate the coffee, like Guinness and most other stout brewers. The reason for this is that the smaller nitrogen bubbles give the brew a rich and creamy texture, as well as accentuating the sweetness of the drink, rather than giving it a sharp, clean finish that you get with Co2. So for those of us who usually get mocked for enjoying a sweet and creamy cup of coffee, there may finally be a genuinely pleasant way to drink that dark, bitter nectar. Praise be to Nitro Brew!

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Bulletproof Coffee

Butter, coconut oil, and coffee? It’s a thing, and it appears to be gaining more and more press this year, especially with TV celebs such as Jimmy Fallon admitting to their involvement in this buttery blasphemy. Why would anyone even think of combining these three ingredients in the first place? Well, Dave Asprey (founder and CEO of the whole Bulletproof brand) created the brew with health benefits in mind; Bulletproof coffee is intended to act as a slow-burning energy source, supressing hunger for anything from 4-6 hours. Importantly, due to the high content of 'good fats' in the recipe, Bulletproof is intended to be consumed as breakfast, not alongside it. It’s also reported to taste quite good, however I think this may require some testing before taking this for granted.

Asprey has released videos outlining the best way to brew this intriguing health concoction, and surprisingly, the result of the ingredients being (literally) blended together looks astoundingly similar to a standard Latte. The attractive layer of foam and the creamy appearance was certainly not what I was expecting, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious about its hunger suppressing qualities. So I shall definitely be giving this recipe a try, although I’m still not sure how a cup of coffee is going to fill a Full English sized void.

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Crème Brûlée Latte

Is this a Crème Brûlée flavoured latte? No. Is this a latte flavoured Crème Brûlée? No (although that does sound divine doesn’t it). This is quite literally a Vanilla Latte with caramelised brown sugar on top. Unbelievable I know. The home-made vanilla syrup is steamed with the milk and added to the brewed espresso in a mug; this thick, creamy coffee is then topped with brown sugar, and quickly torched so that it creates the classic caramelised sugar coating that defines a Crème Brûlée. The wonder that is the Crème Brûlée Latte is credited to Copa Vida, a coffee house in Pasadena, U.S. Hats off to you Copa Vida, this is certainly a show stopper.

 

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The Science Behind the Wonder

During the course of my career, I have heard marketing departments and agencies referred to as ‘the colouring in department’. Whilst this is mostly said in jest, sometimes it does make you stop & wonder if this is all marketing really is. Is this ever-growing, constantly evolving sector dependent on people’s gut feel & on-the-job experience, or is there more science to building brands?

In our line of marketing, we build our strategies and campaigns with ‘the consumer’ at the heart. This is not ground breaking of course, but it’s always good to remind yourself that ‘the consumer’ is a human too – making conscious & unconscious decisions, driven by emotions and past experiences. So, time for me to get my science hat on and explore how the brain processes & understands brands and marketing activity.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that consumer behaviour is formed in two ways: functional & neuropsychological goals. Functional goals really take things literally: you buy a drink to quench your thirst, for example. Neuropsychological goals are driven by your emotions towards that drink: do you like the flavour, what health benefits does it offer etc. etc.? To develop successful brand communications, both of these goals must be met, but it can be very much argued that the neuropsychological goal is the one that opens the door for a wild success.

The way to achieve a functional goal is simple – communicate to consumers what your brand is, and what it does. Nevertheless, whilst this is a seemingly obvious point, there are other aspects of this to consider; for example, studies have shown that consumers are able to make a shopping decision in 0.3 seconds, purely based on a brand’s distinctive assets. These distinctive assets cover everything from colour, bottle shape to brand mark – things always at the front of a marketer’s mind when developing packaging. These have become so deeply engrained in consumers’ minds, that there’s even a board game based on well-known logos – from which I emerged victorious one family Christmas. However, whilst I was humbly celebrating my glory, I felt a slightly unnerving reality settle over me – I’ve been so overloaded with brands over the years that I slammed the other team to a rather shameful defeat (so maybe not so humble in the victory). This realisation brings me on to my next point: whilst we all may recognise a brand through its distinctive assets & as such understand its function, we all have associations with this brand – and this is the main factor in purchase decisions – our neuropsychological goal.

Throughout my experience in various aspects of marketing, I have heard different terminology relating to neuropsychological goals, but nothing quite as scientific; terms such as ‘winning the hearts and minds’, ‘building brand loyalty’, ‘delivering authenticity’ and so on and so forth. The scientific term encompasses all of these, neatly wrapping it up in one little box: if people only shopped to achieve their functional goals, there would be only one brand of whisky for example. However, consumers need more from their brands – something that will make their task easier, their party better, their drink healthier…and this is where emotions come in to play. Research has demonstrated that consumers primarily use their emotions to make purchase decisions. Whilst our brains respond to visual stimuli almost instantaneously, stories build our emotional connections to brands and remain in our subconscious for a longer period of time. This is why, in terms of reaching neuropsychological goals, it is vital for a brand to identify their consumers’ emotional drivers and build a narrative around this. It is equally as important to understand that these must differ across your range of brands – each product or brand must build its own narrative based off of its own attributes and consumer. The perfect example here is Coca Cola; a brand that successfully sold two essentially identical products (Diet Coke and Coke Zero) to different consumer groups by tapping into their emotional drivers.

So what I have learnt in the process of researching this insight piece? Most importantly, that whilst the ‘Moment of Wonder’ as we Wonderworkers like to call it, may be seen as marketing fluff by clients or people we don’t work directly with, it is actually scientifically proven! Never have I understood our proposition more than now, with the clarity of the defined link between emotions and brand worlds to help us achieve the ‘Woo-Hoo’ with all of our clients.

Now of course I didn't just know all of this stuff - I had to do a little bit of research. The links to the sources are below (and are very interesting reads!):

 

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The Importance of an Emotional Connection

Over the last week, I’ve been looking into consumers’ need for an emotional connection to the brands they buy. For example, I will ALWAYS buy the same brand of makeup – not because of the price point (I almost have a panic attack every time I run out, as it’s an investment to say the least), but because I remember the first time I used products from their brand fondly. It was the first time I felt that makeup had made a proper difference to my face & I have fantastic memories of that evening as a result.

The ‘emotional connection’ a consumer has with a brand is what we call the brand experience. This is vital to customer loyalty and ‘the strongest brands are those who think “holistically” about the experience they offer, ranging from the emotional effect they deliver to the sense of social identity they create among customers’*. So, what does this actually mean for us marketers?

Well, first and foremost we need to keep consumer needs at the heart of everything we do. By understanding what consumers are looking for, both from a brand and an experience, we can build a strategy that will forge emotional connections at every part of the consumer journey.

Take, for example, our work on the Britvic Mixers Relaunch. Whilst, in the most basic view, this could be seen as a simple brand repositioning project, we worked closely with our client to develop a campaign that was built on the foundation of consumers’ understanding of the brand as a staple of pubs and British culture. Using this knowledge, we applied the ethos of bringing people together across the consumer journey and built in tactics consistent with the brand identity across all touchpoints.

A message as straightforward as ‘Lifting Spirits’ became the cornerstone of our campaign – not only acting as our call to action, but also acting as a springboard for the Lifting Spirits Foundation, where consumers can give back to local causes by buying a drink in their local pub.

It is vital that a brand matches the emotive needs of their consumer with the emotion their brand represents, rather than forcing this on them. This can only lead to a disingenuous relationship between brand and consumer, and one retro-fitted tactic can make a campaign nosedive in its consumers’ experience of it.

For a brand to successfully deliver on the emotional experience their consumer has, they must own it. I don’t mean magic it out of thin air to match KPIs or aims for the brand, but understand your brand. Step into the shoes of your consumer and see your brand through their eyes. Only then can you really develop a meaningful campaign to bring brand experience to your consumers, and once this is nailed, the tactics will all fall into place.

Sources & other interesting reads:

Marketing Week

TNS Global

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The growth of the experience economy

I’ve been looking into the growth of the experience economy, something which has blown up with the help of millennials over the last few years. My research into this led me to some really interesting articles on Forbes, Huffington Post, Marketing Magazine and Marketing Week, covering everything from pop ups to Pepsi Emojis. As always links to these can be found below…

Studies done by PWC show that millennials are building an ‘experience economy’ – seeing as it’s no longer difficult to own items, there has been a shift towards spending on experiences. 52% of 18-34 year olds spend on experiences, against 39% of older consumers* – a broad divide. Whilst this could be put down to social media bragging rights, it appears that these occasions are more so used for sharing experiences with friends and peers – they enjoy having the ability to create memories whilst engaging with those around them.

These experience-hunters see more than just the product or brand, but rather what the brand stands for. They use the brand to help define who they are and what they stand for, sharing this both with friends and in the online world of social media. As a result, the authenticity of a brand’s offering is paramount – the product on its own means very little to this group, as marketers, we should be focusing on the end-to-end experience of the product. 72% of millennials plan to increase their spending on experiences to provide a lasting impression and connect with brands and their peers* – why shouldn’t we as marketers seize this opportunity to build brand loyalists?

In light of this new perspective there is even more of a need for an end-to-end strategy for brands. In order to deliver a genuine product experience, the entire customer journey must be intricately planned to ensure that each and every touchpoint is aligned with the overarching strategy. Whilst this process is rather strenuous, by sticking to it, we can ensure involvement and brand understanding from this emerging group who are looking for ‘return on involvement’ over return on investment.

The rise of FOMO (fear of missing out) and the search for return on involvement have led to an interesting time for marketers striving to fulfil these consumer needs. These new phenomena open a lot of doors in terms of experiential marketing, a term which in recent years has come to mean one of two things: an event or a pop up. However, we must understand that experiential is broader than these two tactics and seize the opportunity to engage with consumers who want to be engaged at every opportunity possible.

By understanding the value of brand truths to customers, and identifying consumer needs (in this case an experience) brands and products can achieve what we call the Moment of Wonder.

Sources:

* Forbes

Other sources for further reading:

Huffington Post

Marketing Mag

Marketing Week

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Bring on the Pop Ups!

Spring is here, the sun is out (mostly), and for us Londoners that means one very important thing – the season of pop ups is upon us!

We made quick work of booking our first outing of the season: Smith & Sinclair’s Edible Perfume Rooms (in association with Tanqueray Gin). Tickets for this event were selling out quicker-than-hotcakes-fast, so unfortunately, we couldn’t get a table at their bar, but we did manage to swipe a couple of tickets to their Edible Perfume Workshop. My colleague Ivo and I were quite excited about this one; while Ivo expected to be able to try cocktails & food infused with actual perfume (very intriguing), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – but cocktails were definitely on the list! The set up was lovely – a venue I’ve actually walked past many times – a little shop just off of Carnaby Street. This led to a really simple, intimate venue – but maybe a little too simple. I was expecting to have a full hands-on workshop experience, so when we were shown to our places at the back of the shop, I was a little baffled. For something that we were expecting to be quite a premium experience, the materials we were using for the workshop weren’t that premium (apart from the edible perfume paper. That was fab.)

The workshop itself was really well thought through – the right balance of education and interactivity. The only drawback was that, seeing as the group was so small (just 6 of us) and we were quite obviously on a schedule, those of us thirsty for more knowledge (like Ivo) weren’t exactly put at ease to ask. Actually, another drawback – those of us thirsty for actual cocktails (like myself) didn’t get any!

We created our own perfumes, using an alcohol base (rum for me, amaretto for Ivo) and adding essences of herbal, earthy, fruity or citrus flavours drop by drop. Without even considering it, I managed to make a perfume more suited to men than to myself…a combination of rum, coconut and acorn does not a feminine scent make! However, it does taste delicious. We were encouraged to use our perfumes as a garnish on cocktails, to spray onto cakes as a final touch, or to enhance the serve experience.

This was a really enjoyable experience for us to take part in – and adds another level of imagination sense-experimentation, something that we have developed before for The Glenlivet and Teisseire. It’s quite difficult to find something in London that you haven’t seen before, and that impresses you, but the Edible Perfume Rooms definitely did that! With some refinements, this event will really knock your socks off.

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House of Peroni

The hotly anticipated return of The House of Peroni to London took place with a 4 day pop-up in Wardour Street, Soho, from 15th - 18th March, and we were lucky to get our hands on a couple of tickets! The concept of this pop up was to celebrate the quality of craftsmanship that is so inherent to the Italian way of life; The House of Peroni gave guests the chance to experience art in 3D with Tilt Brush by Google, all within the backdrop of a vibrant Peroni Nastro Azzurro bar.

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As with previous House of Peroni events, the pop up focused on quality food and drink, featuring a bar with award winning ‘Master of Mixology’ Simone Caporale, food by chef Francesco Mazzei’s Calabrian, the ‘Master of Taste’. There was also a special art exhibition featuring three Italian virtual reality artists. The entry ticket entitled us to one free drink each, as well as access to a more secluded area with loads of comfy seating.

The drinks menu featured twists on classic Italian cocktail recipes made with Peroni. Their take on the Negroni, the classic Italian aperitif, was served with Peroni beer and finished with traditional bitters – a really nice combination. A classic Bellini was modified to contain the Italian beer as well. The Peroni Peony offered a fragrant take on the traditional Bellini, with crisp white peach, grape, peony and magnolia flowers.

Continuing the traditional Italian theme, with modern twists was the antipasti platter. This featured on some of Italy’s finest meats – nduja mixed with ricotta and chives, salami and cured smoked duck with beetroot puree, all accompanied by a range of Italian breads and a selection of cheeses. 

The most exciting & standout part of this pop up was the virtual reality experience, where we were invited to create our own 3D artwork. The session started with one of the artists giving a demonstration on how to use the technology and then we were set loose to experiment and explore our own artistic talent. We were also given the opportunity talk to the Italian digital artists whose work was being displayed to get their views on future of art, interactivity and VR.

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Before we left, we received a signed print from one of the artists and a digital keepsake of our own artwork to share on social media.

The verdict:

As expected, the event was packed, and people clearly enjoyed it. However, the clash of the ‘heritage’ element and the ‘futuristic’ art creation experience did not always make sense. While Peroni definitely achieved their goal in making guests experience their Italian heritage through food & drink (even down to the bartenders’ outfits) with a modern twist, the room setup and the virtual reality activity were almost too futuristic, and left us wondering how they fit into the Peroni brand world.

Definitely an experience to be had though – keep your eyes peeled for the next House of Peroni pop up – we will be!

 

 

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How to bring marketing into 2017 – go back to basics

I can’t believe that it’s almost April. Just putting it out there! The first quarter of 2017 has passed, and we’ve seen some very interesting progressions here at Wonderworks – a lot of which made me think of writing this insight piece. We’ve been involved in a lot of strategy work recently, and it seems that our clients are returning to the ‘old fashioned’ style of marketing, despite the fact that the fast evolution of the world of communications has impacted strategy’s importance in marketing, and downplayed it in favour of a tactical approach in the last few years.

In light of this viewpoint, I took the time to look into the thoughts and opinions on others who work in the industry. Articles on Marketing Week & Forbes appear to validate this approach of supporting the overarching strategy with tactics (see the links at the bottom of the page to read the articles)

As marketers, we should not lose focus of the strategy, from the moment we define the challenge in the brief, through to the execution of the activation. This consistent strategy will lead to consistency in messaging across all touch points, building the consumer’s relationship with the brand. Whilst the limitations on how we communicate have been lifted in recent years, the strategy is still the same – to communicate with consumers. It’s just that now there are more tactics available to us.…or more aptly put:

“There’s no such thing as traditional or new media, just as there’s no such thing as traditional or social media marketing. All there is media and marketing, and both have always been and always will be in a constant state of tactical evolvement.” *

However, the evolvement of marketing tactics is not a negative thing – it means we have more choice as marketers of how to portray our brand – yet there needs to be a strategy underneath these, rationalising why they are being employed.

Any brand strategy should distil the brand’s essence, whether it be for a week-long activation or a five-year campaign, and with such a wealth of tactics available to us, from the pop-up to the Snapchat filter, there is an endless supply of tactics that scream the brand personality. In a world where authenticity makes up a large part of brand loyalty, it is crucial to create and maintain a strong strategy from the outset, supported by a range of fitting tactics.

Developing a strong marketing strategy takes time and effort to understand the consumer and the market, and this shines through in its implementation. Whilst many marketers have been swept up in the whirlwind of tactical development over the last few years, what pays off the best is the consumers’ belief that they are at the heart of a strategy – developed for them, fulfilling a need that they have. How this shakes out in the tactical implementation should be a natural development, and so should feel genuine.

The move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing will also enhance the importance of strategical thinking for brands – discovering the USPs of the brands, and unlocking the potential to build their personalities further than previously possible. Whilst a tactical approach provides short term wins for a brand, a strategical approach can build an indefinite timeline to build a genuine following, and brand loyalists with a considered method. 

In short, in the face of a constantly evolving realm of marketing tools, we need to go back to basics by putting strategy at the heart of everything we do. A brand execution is great when nobody needs to ask why it is relevant – it simply clicks.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikalbelicove/2013/09/27/understanding-goals-strategies-objectives-and-tactics-in-the-age-of-social/

For more interesting reads, follow the links below:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikalbelicove/2013/09/27/understanding-goals-strategies-objectives-and-tactics-in-the-age-of-social/#522c95ca658e

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2013/04/16/4-principles-of-marketing-strategy-in-the-digital-age/

https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/05/11/mark-ritson-beware-the-tactification-of-marketing/

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Getting Personal with The Blends' Room

One of the things I love about working a stone’s throw from Soho, is the fact that you never know what the next pop up shop will be. This time I was well and truly (pleasantly!) surprised by Garnier’s announcement of The Blends’ Room – a pop up dedicated to their range of Ultimate Blends. So, of course, I had to go and see it today!

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Now, beauty pop ups definitely are not an uncommon feature, however I was surprised that a large FMCG brand would opt for a set up that is predominantly prevalent in our beloved sector of premium lifestyle, drinks & spirits. Yet, when I arrived at The Blends’ Room in the heart of Soho, it all made sense. Not only was the venue beautifully curated as one would expect within the beauty world, this curation brought the whole concept together. Cage-like statues, created bespoke for the event, showcased the individual products in the range through scents and live samples of their main ingredients. With products on shelves around the room, video installations highlighted their different ‘personalities’. I was incredibly impressed by the use of scents and sensory immersion, something I have only really experienced within more premium product activations, but they also felt innately authentic to this mainstream brand.

After wandering around taking in the different installations, I was greeted and guided to the best shampoo for my hair from the range to take as a sample, whose bottle I then had the chance to personalise with my name. This personal interaction and expertise made me further understand the value of this pop up – it really does provide a full, authentic brand experience, which is so sought after both by brands and consumers alike.

The whole pop up is supported by a braids bar (big shout out to the stylist who managed to get a braid in my short, rather unkempt hair!), a GIF booth which links to social and allows the chance to win free Garnier Ultimate Blends for a year, and most importantly (in my opinion) a range of wellbeing talks and classes. These supporting events (ticketed, but free of charge) add a level of legitimacy to the brand experience – from a talk by Hilary Rowland, Founder of Boom Cycle, to participating in a Beyoncé Barre class (gutted I missed out on that one!) Garnier have listened to their key audience and understood what drives them, and how to reach them. Canny media placements this week in London press, and a savvy social activation have helped tapped into the busy London Millennial’s social diary….

Overall, I was overly impressed by the entire experience, and can see this being a ground breaking event for the category – I’m intrigued to see what is to come next!

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Hey Seoul Sister

Cast your minds back to 2016 – it already feels so long ago! But in November of last year our resident Teisseire expert Alex packed up and flew out to the capital of South Korea for a whirlwind 3-day tour of Seoul for its annual Café Show. Here are a few images of the stand we designed for this show & future exhibitions in Asia come to life:

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However, we couldn’t send her all that way without doing some snooping into what’s on trend in South Korea. Below are a few of the insights she picked up during her time out there:

1.       Drinks trends – a little on the Sweet side

Sweet, fruity serves were the stars of the show at the café show with drinks ranging from cocktails through to coffees flavoured with fresh fruit or sweet syrups. Topped with whipped cream, the serves also look incredibly sweet. There is also a fashion for sweetness in the other sense – an overload of cutesy cartoons, including Hello Kitty themed cafés and food inspired by these iconic characters. Whilst one could assume that these are targeting a younger generation, the likes of Kakao & Friends are huge in Seoul and appeal massively to adults also.

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2.       Keeping it healthy & organic

Although this seems a stark contrast to our first piece of insight, the movement towards fresh, organic drinks has taken just as much of a hold of the market in Seoul as it has here in London. Whilst this could be put down to the fact that Asia is the home of green tea and matcha (and boy, did Alex see a lot of that), that would be a narrow explanation for this movement. There was an abundance of freshly blended drinks such as smoothies, but also a large amount of organic juices (aptly branded ‘Healthy Juice’ amongst others) boasting their health-boosting and organic attributes.

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3.       A penchant for everything French

It’s no surprise that the French are world renowned for their style, grace and cuisine – and this reputation is highlighted in Seoul. Some of the best cafes in town had French names, and served ‘authentic’ French patisseries. This craze doesn’t seem to be dying down for a while.

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These trends are not a million miles away from those we have seen here in London over the last few years, however the unique angle that South Korean retailers take on these themes make them even more interesting.

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Wonderworks Top 5 Trends of 2017

I have never been happier to see trend forecasts released, signifying the end of the whirlwind year that called itself 2016. Here are our top 5 trends to look out for, in a (hopefully) brighter 2017:

1.      Freshness

Underpinned by Pantone’s Colour of the Year announcement (congratulations to Greenery), the movement towards freshness and natural cues will gain traction in 2017. For anyone who owns a Pinterest account, you will surely have seen photos of forest-inspired weddings, homes adorned with ferns and succulents and the like, so this will not really be a surprise. You could, however argue that this is not a new trend – consumers have become more health conscious, the trend for organic produce has been established for a few years now. Yet, in my view there are subtle differences between ‘freshness’ and ‘health’.

 The concept of freshness stretches into all facets of life, with inspiration drawn from the nature around us. From distilled soft drinks (you can read our post on that here) to creating minimally-designed outlets, including live flower installations, brands have been pulling on the threads of this trend for the last couple of years. Just look at the boom in botanical spirits (here’s to you gin, we love you) – so is 2017 going to be the golden year for all things fresh?

 2.      Authenticity

Consumers are moving away from mass-produced products, and are being led by a generation who value experience rather than material objects. This leads brands to have to really consider their proposition on every touchpoint and understand their messaging – every single aspect of the brand builds part of this experience, and must be authentic to drive the message through.

The sway towards authenticity is also leading consumers to purchase higher ticket items, which have been crafted, have a story to tell and limited to no artificial components. This has started to show its head in the development of ‘Ugly Drinks’ – a company producing drinks from the fruit and veg you wouldn’t see in a supermarket aisle. In a world where economic instability has pretty much become the norm, and purse strings are getting tighter, we are seeing quite the divergence in behaviour: consumers hate seeing waste, but also want their products to be genuine and honest.

So, what does this mean for brands in 2017? First and foremost, we need to really think about the proposal being put together for the brand. If there is one strategy that deviates from the brand message or story, lose it. To hit the target of an authentic brand, it’s better to have few messages that help the brand shine through, than have many that have been twisted to fit.

We happen to have a blog about our favourite example of authenticity in a brand story here. Convenient eh?

 3.      Artificial intelligence

Quite the 180° from our previous trend, AI is taking the world by storm. Whilst I’m not a technical expert on this, it’s fair to say that this new strain of technological development is moving incredibly quickly and will no doubt have an impact on what we are marketing and how we strategise.

One of the fields of AI to keep an eye on in 2017 is machine learning. Whilst this sounds like something from an 80’s sci-fi film, it is an important development in the world of AI – think automatic facial recognition on Facebook or self-driving cars, even up to generative design. The latter of these is one of the most interesting developments in AI for marketers -  I won’t (and can’t!) describe this in expert detail, but think of a software that takes your design intentions (say for example, a brand logo), and develops all possible outputs of this quickly and efficiently. Bonkers.

I would really recommend looking into the development in the world of AI for marketers in more detail – it is worthy of an information binge, so make sure you have an afternoon spare!

4.      Sensory experiences

Sensory experiences have been knocking around for a year or so now, but brands are really starting to embrace and push the boundaries of how these can enhance brand equity. Ranging from sensory tasting programmes through to imaginative ways of incorporating spirits with food, or even in bubbles, companies such as Bompas & Parr have broadened the scope of how to make food and drink exciting again.

5.      Experiences in general

Research run by PWC shows that the millennial generation are more willing to spend money on experiences than stuff. This could be anything from a great dinner out to a pop up event, but what has been coined the ‘experience economy’ shows no signs of slowing down in 2017. The new way forwards for brands to grow and gain great consumer loyalty is to understand that the consumer journey should be seen as a whole. Each and every touchpoint will impact their experience, which will (whether that experience was positive or negative) inevitably be shared both on social media and by word of mouth.

So, an interesting year lies ahead of us – hopefully with fewer twists and turns – but if these trends are correct, 2017 could prove to be incredibly exciting for us marketers!

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Walking* in a Winter Wonderland

*(pushing my way through tourists)

London turns into an incredible mass of sparkling lights in the weeks running up to Christmas. Whilst I was a bit disgruntled at the early arrival of the lights on Oxford Street, it does bring some festive cheer to these cold nights. But, to really experience the best of Christmas decorations in London, ditch the hoards of (brave/stupid, delete as appropriate) yuletide shoppers on the world's busiest street and head for Mayfair.


Normally New Bond Street and its surrounding streets make me uncomfortably aware that I don't fit their usual clientele, however, throw some glitter and baubles in the windows and I'm all over it. I was in awe of the detail that the stores had gone into to ensure that their displays were not only beautiful, but also reflected their premium positioning - their curation was almost museum-like.

In the realm of high end boutiques, two stood out above the rest: Tiffany & Co and Burberry. Tiffany's window displays were a great demonstration in how to showcase products in a festive way, without compromising their luxury credentials. By recreating recognisable festive scenes with their jewellery, they managed to bring the sparkle of Christmas to life in a new, inspiring way.

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Burberry, on the other hand, went down a slightly different, but just as impressive route. Bringing in an element of movement to their displays, they managed to add a level of childish nostalgia, whilst staying premium. Arctic puffins, a running polar bear and meerkats all made this display fun and engaging.

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On Oxford Street the shop fronts of John Lewis, House of Fraser and Selfridges all shout Christmas, but for a lesson in festive subtlety, a visit to Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly is called for. The message of their window displays 'Together We're Merrier' is wonderful and much needed after the whirlwind that called itself 2016, and  is brought to life with the exact right balance of nostalgia, humour and festiveness. Bobble hats off to my winner of London Christmas displays - not gaudy, too sentimental or trying too hard, just sharing some festive joy in a sleek, well thought out manner.

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A lesson in making authenticity & heritage interesting again - MAST Brothers

Trying to convince my friends to come on a chocolate factory tour with me was (unsurprisingly) easy - throw in a chocolate tasting and it's even easier. Based in Shoreditch, MAST Brothers chocolate factory and shop is a hidden gem in a city boasting all sorts of immersive experiences. And simplicity is at the heart of everything for these chocolate makers.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the experience, as I knew nothing about the brand's production or history, and I was more than pleasantly surprised! It is always a struggle to strike the right balance of authenticity and heritage when telling a brand story - dive too deep into origins and artisan production technique and you can lose a portion of your audience, make it too basic and risk glossing over some of your most interesting brand assets - however our tour guide at MAST Brothers got it just the right amount of whimsical and educational.

The shop itself is incredibly impressive - it is so well curated, it could almost be an exhibit at the Tate Modern. Each chocolate bar is a piece of art in its own right - that's what using independent artists in the place of designers, and hand wrapping each individual bar will get you. At the back of the sleek shop floor, ceiling-high windows allow a sneak peek into the factory. Even calling it a factory is an exaggeration! Every piece of equipment is so minimal and well thought out that it alone demonstrates the crafting that goes into this brand. It's all so un-try hard and authentically cool that it's almost annoying.

Whilst we were told about the brand's humble beginnings as the brain child of the two Mast brothers in New York, it was thrown into the tour almost like casual conversation, so nothing seemed too overbranded. The focus of the tour was to educate about chocolate production, and how to make a genuinely great product (like Mast chocolate, coincidentally) rather than to reinforce any super-obvious brand messages. The brand message here is: we make great chocolate - here's how. 

We all left the tour full of chocolate samples and exclaiming about how this was the dream job - Mast Brothers is like that really beautiful, smart, lovely person in your year in Sixth Form who you couldn't dislike because they were so cool. Sit up and take note other brands - show people what your brand really is, and focus on that!

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