The low-calorie drinks company selling ‘a set of USPs and not a brand’

SkinnyBrands is eager to convince consumers not to buy into ambiguous brand messages like craft, but to focus on unique selling points such as being low-calorie and gluten free instead.

SkinnyBrands

Imagine the following scenario: you’re on a diet, or at least looking to choose a healthier option when it comes to your drinking repertoire. Would you buy a drink that is purely marketed on its brand benefits, like being lower in calories and gluten free? SkinnyBrands seems to think so.

For those unaware of SkinnyBrands, the brand offers low-calorie alcoholic drinks. At the moment, it is focused around beer and canned cocktails, but there are plans in the works for wine too.

While there are other brewers out there focusing on low or no-alcohol options, the company’s new marketing director Allan Moffat claims SkinnyBrands is unique as it “doesn’t compromise” on taste or alcohol volume.

For example, its SkinnyBrands lager advertised on its website contains 89 calories per 330ml bottle. In comparison, a similar-sized Carlsberg can contains 149 calories, while Bud Light has 118 calories in a standard 440ml can. The ABV of its lager is 4%, while Bud Light stands at 3.5%. Meanwhile, SkinnyBrands’ Cosmo, Mojito and Margarita cocktails are 5% ABV and contain 90 calories per can.

The website even includes information on how many WeightWatchers points are accrued per bottle of beer (three points – one whole point lower than Coors Light). The beer also claims to be vegan friendly and gluten free.

We know the challenges that the bigger, more established beer and lager brands will face. They’re not purpose built. By nature, [low-calorie versions] are a compromise of an existing product.

Allan Moffat, SkinnyBrands

“I know some other brands have got some of our functional benefits, but none of them have all of them. The vast majority are lower in alcohol to deliver lower calorie, and weaker in taste to deliver lower carbs. We feel like we’re leading the way in terms of that area of the market,” he says.

“We know the challenges that the bigger, more established beer and lager brands will face. They’re not purpose built. By nature, they are a compromise of an existing product.”

Building a lifestyle brand

Its new marketing director Allan Moffat has only been with the business for four months, but claims it has been a rollercoaster of a ride so far. The role differs hugely from his previous experience at retailers, where most of the work is based around key moments in the year such as Easter and Christmas. But this role feels “exciting and different, as we’re opening up a new category,” he says.

Moffat’s mission since he started has been to get the brand’s ‘drink different’ message across to consumers, which he says aims to challenge consumers to think differently about beer and alcohol more generally.

“We’re a lifestyle brand, we’re not building a back story on craft or being uniquely Italian or anything like that. In the beer category in particular, we have aligned ourselves clearly on a set of USPs, which is unusual,” he explains.

“Most beer products are marketed around a lifestyle associated with the product, while we are matching the lifestyles of our consumers. You don’t have to buy into the brand messaging as you would with craft beer.”

We’re not selling a brand to the public. We’re selling a set of USPs, which is different. There’s nobody really going into the market with a pure play on ‘here are the benefits’.

However, this approach of prioritising unique selling points and focusing purely on the fact it is a “healthier” option might also work against SkinnyBrands – something that Moffat recognises. There are also the usual challenges that come with being a small brand, including raising awareness with a small marketing budget.

“We’re not selling a brand to the public. We’re selling a set of USPs, which is different. There’s nobody really going into the market with a pure play on ‘here are the benefits’,” he says.

Its marketing plans for the rest of the year are mainly focused around sport, culture and music events, where it will look to get the products into people’s hands. It will also focus on social and digital campaigns.

Moffat is unable to share exact sales figures, but is upbeat about SkinnyBrands’ performance so far. Since the brand’s launch in 2016, it has managed to get listed in more than 1,000 Tesco stores and 20,000 pubs. It plans to sign more deals with grocers in the new year, and has set an ambitious target to expand into four international markets by the end of next year, including Australia. The small brand has big ambitions; it wants to establish itself as a global beverage company.

He concludes: “We’re not talking about one product line, I’m talking about a drinks company. The ambition is to establish ourselves in the UK market and we’ve set a fairly stiff target with four international markets by the end of next year, which we’re well on track to do. We want to become a global brand.”

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