As Drinks Retailing unveils the Top 100 influential people in the industry in its latest issue, we ask four experts from the worlds of brands, marketing and consumer insight what elements most easily persuade consumers to part with their hard-earned cash

Tom Harvey, co-founder, YesMore marketing agency 

The word “influencer” evokes images of a Gen Z social media star creating content on their phone. But it’s important for marketers and brands to remember that influence comes in many forms, and consumers trust different types to varying degrees.

It’s necessary for brands to factor in what exactly they need influenced. Is it simply more people to hear and know about the brand? Or to follow it, or be an advocate for it? Or to sign up to an email database? Or is the aim simply to get more people to buy it? Knowing your objective will help determine the type of influencer to prioritise.

When mass awareness is needed, wide-reaching influencers such as macro social influencers, celebrities or a brand partner with the same target audience as the brand are most relevant.

When the objective is to drive sales, it’s better to engage the most trusted influencers as advocates, such as friends and family or social media influencers with small or medium-sized followings.

Don’t forget that review sites are an incredible form of influence, and that journalists and their publications are influencers in their own right. 

Sam Gilding, sales & marketing director, Vypr product intelligence platform 

Influences on drink purchases change frequently and by asking our community we can understand what the main motivations for consumers are at any given time.

Promotions and special offers are the biggest driving force, which isn’t surprising given the current climate. When buying alcohol in supermarkets, the season or occasion (38%) and brand name (35%) are next most important. This shows that brands still have an important role in influencing purchase.

When we dug a little deeper, we found that Gen Z and Millennials value the recommendations of loved ones – with 38% saying this was an important factor in purchases – along with packaging appeal and social media. In contrast, older consumers regard brand and reputation as important, with 45% saying it is a major influence.

When drinking out of the home, weather influences the choice of drinks purchase for 36% of people, followed by promotions and special offers. Younger age groups place importance on location when selecting what to drink.

For no-alcohol drinks, brand knowledge (17%) and recommendations from loved ones (16%) are significant factors when purchasing from a supermarket. External factors have less importance overall to those choosing low or no-alcohol drinks.

Lisa Halstead, buyer, Master of Malt 

From a retail buyer’s perspective, there are a number of influences that we take into account. Our first point of call is data. We look at our own customers’ habits and buying patterns, then those of others. We also look at trends; we know that the on-trade usually starts these and they then filter down to the off-trade.

The brand story is also really important in our decision making. Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious about what they drink, so a brand’s provenance and sustainability ethos is really influential. We also find that each category has totally different influences.

What influences the gin drinker will be totally different from the whisky shopper. The influence of celebrity endorsement is noticeable in spirits, but this is only if there is authentic promotion around it and the celebrity is directly involved in the brand, as opposed to just being the face of it.

Jackson Quinn, managing director, Au vodka 

A lot of people assume that our success is all about disruptive social media, and it has undoubtedly been a huge part of our success so far. However, I believe the power of positive word of mouth, especially in the early days, was the biggest catalyst for our explosive growth.

Our bottle sales between 2020 and 2021 grew from 30,000 bottles to 2 million, with revenue growing from £700,000 to £38.4 million. We owe a large part of this to organic word of mouth. The power of ordinary people sharing on social media was incredible. Real people with genuinely positive sentiments about the product created a snowball effect that made others want to try it for themselves.

There’s nothing more powerful than the opinion of someone you truly respect. When a friend or loved one tells you that something is amazing it’s an unrivalled influence.

However, the power of a formal social media campaign can’t be ignored. It has been one of the most important tools in allowing us to express our disruptive marketing methods. The team’s ability to think outside the box has led to some of our most influential social media moments, such as our gold Lamborghini giveaway, or our recent campaign with global superstar Youtuber Jake Paul. We pretended to tattoo a big Au bottle on his arm the week before one of his big boxing fights to create a viral moment. These campaigns really resonate with consumers long term and allow you to build loyal fans.