The product launch of the MagentaDot Brands renamed, rebranded and repackaged “Waitui Single Malt 6 year aged” is a critical time in the early stage of introducing this New Zealand Manuka Honey Small Batch Whiskey to the domestic and international liquor markets. Kiwi Spirit distillery is a small company so to create a big launch takes careful planning and sufficient lead time to organize all the contributing components. This is a company with small budgets and limited resources so there is a need to get as much value out of the budget and resources as possible.
The Waitui Product Launch is a process that has a lifecycle
The successful launching of products is an ongoing process, not just a one-off event that goes off with a big bang. There is a launch event that acts as the focus of the launch process, but it is just one component of a winning launch.
The purpose of the Waitui Product Launch is to build wholesale and retail sales momentum for Kiwi Spirit and for valued retail partners.
Sales momentum will enable Kiwi Spirit to grow and prosper and by carefully partnering the launch with a premium Whisky retailer this benefit can be shared. Both firms will add more customers, expand their influence, and initiate growth of even more momentum after the event. A well run launch process is one of the few opportunities to significantly increase sales.
Waitui Single Malt Honey Whiskey is matched to New Zealand liquor market needs
Since 2002 only small batches of Waitui Whiskey have been carefully distilled from a single malt mash in traditional copper pot stills using Waikoropupu Spring water renowned for its purity and unrivalled clarity. Waitui is a smooth and gentle whiskey with a long, pleasant, honeyed finish that appeals to both women and men across a broad demographic.
The first iteration of Waitui was a 4 year aged Whiskey that already had a small loyal market of buyers who have purchased the product since 2002 when it started life sold under the “Bush Whiskey” brand. The client has retailed the product from their shop in Takaka every day since then and at the Saturday Nelson market so they have accumulated a great deal of knowledge about the New Zealand and international Whiskey drinking market needs. Renamed, rebranded and repackaged as Waitui Single Malt in 2010 by MagentaDot Brands Waitui has since enjoyed repositioning at the premium end of the market, shifting up steadily from a retail price online of $79 up to $139 since I delivered the individual bottle gift packaging in December 2014. The rebrand has yielded seven years of hugely improved retail sales performance with demand consistently outstripping supply. The professionally named and branded Waitui has also been able to gain access to the wholesale liquour market through selected premium outlets domestically, access which under the Bush Whiskey brand had previously been politely but firmly declined.
The new Waitui 6 Years aged is 40% alc/vol and is an appreciably more smooth and well rounded Whiskey than its 4 year old predecessor was at 38%. The 40% alc/vol is a step up to that of a true Whiskey and research has shown that buyers are willing to pay for a premium New Zealand Single Malt. My interviews of the sales staff at Christchurch specialist importer and retailer Whiskey Galore in 2014 informed me that with the new standard of presentation in the individual gift box, 6 year aged Waitui was poised to secure a new niche market as a premium New Zealand souvenir for tourists, and that forecast has proven true. Whiskey Galore staff also pointed out that, for example, many professionals involved in the Christchurch rebuild who are looking to take home a unique and prestigious New Zealand gift will look very favourably on a premium New Zealand Single Malt.
Clear Waitui Positioning and Messaging
Since 2010 the renamed and rebranded Waitui logo and labelling system has positioned the product clearly in the minds of Whiskey buyers as a Manuka Honey Single Malt Golden Bay Whiskey. The Waitui name is clearly and distinctly of New Zealand and all of the presentational and explanatory messages in the packaging system make clear to our buyers and our potential retail partners exactly where Waitui Single Malt is positioned;
- a Golden Bay Whiskey,
- a Single Malt Manuka Honey Whiskey,
- a Handcrafted Small Batch Whiskey,
- Product of New Zealand,
- A True Expression of Place and Time since 2002.
The gift carton’s well researched & written messaging
On the gift carton the Small Batch Handcrafted messaging is conveyed by Terry Knight, the Distillery Manager’s signature. Introduced by the positioning line “Tradition Rewritten” and paired with the hand-recorded distillation and bottling dates, cask and bottle number it is self evidently a hand-crafted small batch New Zealand Honey Whiskey—it’s presentation is unambiguous, it cannot in any way be perceived as a New Zealand Whiskey passing itself off as a wannabe Scotch.
There are several Waitui distinct message pillars I have written—simple phrases that reinforce the value propositions Waitui delivers to customers and valued retail partners.
Developing the language to communicate the intrinsic value of Waitui
For the buyer (and retail partners) effective positioning of Waitui is a communication process of engaging with the tactile experience of the packaging and point-of-sale material. The mix of these presents the benefits and unique attributes of a Golden Bay Manuka Honey Single Malt in a way that is informative, entertaining and crystal clear. The packaging system messages are very well articulated, for example the “engraved” custom location map, so customers “get” Waitui’s points of difference with very little selling effort required from the retailer at point of sale. The customer sees Waitui stand out on the retail shelf or at the bar, they are attracted to a product that makes a strong first impression, they are interested in the beautiful and informative presentation, they understand, they like, they buy and they are left with a lasting positive impression.
Waitui’s positioning has developed from a clear understanding of market needs and how Waitui matches those needs. It also forms the foundation for all communication to the target market.
I have developed the language to communicate the value of Waitui in a design alliance with well researched and written copy, a classic illustrative logo and labelling and Litho-laminate packaging printing of the highest craft standard, all themed black and gold, all designed and printed in New Zealand.
Strategic partnering for leverage
As small companies with limited budgets Kiwi Spirit and retail project partners aim to get great launch results through the power of partnering for leverage. Partnering will get the word out about Waitui 6 year aged much faster, partnering will build a customer base and generate more revenue to the mutual benefit of both parties.
Employees, friends, family, customers, partners, investors, media, and industry organisations can be reached—these people and organisations will influence the success of the Waitui launch. The point-of-sale, promotional material and promotional products I have developed for the launch will engage their interest and really give them something to talk about.
Priming the Pump
One of the biggest secrets to a winning Waitui Single Malt launch is priming the pump. The set of promotional ideas developed will help build excitement and create demand for Waitui before it is generally available to customers and retailers. Priming the pump starts with:
- Sales teams—Brief them early and give them the information they need.
- Industry Experts—brief them, seek their feedback and keep them up with developments.
- Local and national media—brief them with a Press Release and keep them up with developments.
An element of secrecy can certainly help with efforts to Prime the Pump. We can use the currency of anticapation to help build interest and get more buyers excited.
Time the Waitui Single Malt Launch Event to Maximize Sales
The timing of the launch is yet to be determined. Now that the 6x bulk shipping carton has been delivered to the Kiwi Spirit Distillery in Takaka the product is ready for the Waitui Launch Event once the time is set.
Promotional Products that will help increase sales
Promotional products and merchandise like T-shirts, whiskey glasses and miniature samples are really effective alternatives to Print and Media advertising when they are put to smart use. The most common use for promotional merchandise is to give it away to prospective clients as an advertisement for Waitui and hope they use them often. Though with the Kiwi Spirit stall at the Saturday morning Nelson market promotional swag could be sold as premium items rather than given away.
Smart use of promotional merchandise maximizes financial returns
Giving away or selling useful items at the product launch populated by Waitui’s target audience is an effective strategy. What better place and time to target New Zealand Whisky drinking afficianados? This is the target local audience we are aiming to reach in order to further our goals of a successful launch and an expanded customer base.
Promotional products can also be used to reward your hard working, loyal and resourceful employees. In the case of the useful and visually appealing Waitui t-shirt this would also be very useful for the Kiwi Spirit crew to wear in order to keep the Waitui brand’s visual theme running throughout the launch event. They will also be useful at other sales and promotional venues in the future to create a strong brand image..
Branded promotional merchandise is a form of advertising; advertising that gets you noticed and delivers better engagement than any of the other forms of advertising Kiwi Spirit has the budget for.
Most people appreciate promotional products, especially when they are free. The receiver feels a positive association towards Waitui, and positive associations like that are the best for your customers to have towards your brand. Products like t-shirts and glasses are also useful, and most people are likely to use them often. This means Waitui can advertise to clients with the same product repeatedly and most likely to their colleagues at work or their friends and family at home. These customers can act as a voluntary, cheerleading sales force for Waitui delivering an increase in new business and sales of the sort that can only be gained from the effective and repeated advertising that the Promotional Products provide.
Smart use of promotional merchandise will maximise the potential of driving sales from the product launch event especially the unique promotional products visualised here that really relate to the Waitui brand message. These products will give a much bigger visual impact to the launch and persuade clients to look more favourably on the Waitui brand— once they have tasted Waitui, as we already know, they will very likely become enthusiastic brand ambassadors!
The saying goes in business “it’s the packaging that sells the product for the first time, but it’s what’s inside that sells the package the second time.”
If you are clear about where you want to go with your branding and/or packaging project contact me here or call Shaun on +64 21 067 6176 for great service and a reasonable fee structure.
MORE REBRANDING PROJECTS
Printers: Croft Printing Limited (litho-laminate gift carton, miniature labels),
MRlabels Nelson (750ml bottle labelling system),
Charta Packaging (flexo 6x outer shipping carton)
Copywriters: Chrissie Terpstra / Shaun Waugh
Font credits: Clarendon, ITC Edwardian Script