Pernod Ricard moves into connected devices, wearable tech

Pernod Ricard is readying a flurry of investments into the online arena from wearable tech to at-home drinking appliances, part of a plan to invest 20 per cent of its global marketing budget in digital. 

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Pernod Ricard is set to move into the at-home drinking appliances market with the prototype for its Gutenburg Project product (above).

The drinks maker is planning to create gadgets and technologies that encourage drinkers to connect with brands such as Absolut, Ballantine’s and Jameson daily.

This has led to the creation of a connected cocktail dispenser. The product, dubbed internally as the “Gutenberg Project”, can be linked to a computer or smartphone to help mix cocktails at home by dispensing liquor. Book-shaped containers house various spirits brands that drinkers would reorder online when emptied. The device does not have a brand name or launch date yet, however, the business believes it could create a new revenue stream rather than cannibalise existing sales.

Pernod Ricard is also planning to enhance its presence in the wearable tech space. It is testing a washable, digital t-shirt in 20 markets in the coming months that lets wearers display personalised and animated messages in real-time. The project, developed in partnership with wearable tech makers Switch, is being funded through the Ballantine scotch whiskey brand. The marketing team is hoping to drive awareness around the content fans create and post when they see it online or in person. The t-shirt OS 2.0 initiative builds on a campaign the brand ran in 2012, which was billed as the “world’s first internet-enabled t-shirt”.

The digital drive is led by the group’s first head of digital marketing Antonia Mccahon, who joined last September, and heads up its recently launched Digital Acceleration Team’s efforts to identify where messages, actions and products can be improved by the discipline.

Mccahon says: “Our vision for digital goes way beyond using it for advertising media. It’s not just about creating brand campaigns. We want to use digital to create services that add value to consumers when they are at home or at a party connecting with other consumers.

“Good marketing is solving things for people, making things easier and helping people get better at what they want to do. If that works, you can turn it into a service, when it becomes a service it becomes a component of your business.”

Meanwhile, Pernod Ricard is to launch a number of location-based initiatives through its partnerships with Google, Foursquare and online restaurant booker Open Table. Earlier this week, it embedded all content from its online “World’s Best Bars” hub with the search engine so that users are served promotions from outlets serving its brands as they walk past them. It said the feature could also be integrated into the Google Glass experience when it launches later this year.

It is also beta-testing a social network for bar tenders along with introducing a Absolute branded website which shows films that demonstrate how to make as many as 3,500 cocktails.

The drinks maker predicts the rate of digital innovation will continue to grow in 2014. Having created a corporate-wide innovation pipeline (see slide below) over the last three years to spur its efforts, it is now looking to breakdown channel silos to streamline its media costs and drive efficiencies.

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Alexandre Ricard, deputy chief executive of Pernod Ricard, says: “You don’t do digital because its fashionable. You do digital because it has a real impact on business performance. We’ve been through a major change and our now looking at what value we can add to our digital transformation and the relationship with the consumer.”

Do you have a great digital marketing case study from 2013 to shout about? Then why not enter the Marketing Week Engage Awards? Find full details here.

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