Patrón Tequila is making it easier for consumers to learn about its tequila with its new augmented reality app.
The Patrón Experience, which debuted at the Apple App Store Sept. 19, gives users the opportunity to transport themselves to a virtual world at the Hacienda Patrón in Jalisco, Mexico, the private distillery where the tequila is produced and bottled.
Patrón is one of the first brands to launch AR technology powered by the new Apple releases of the iOS 11 with ARKit. The brand has a longstanding history of being at the forefront of consumer tech innovation as it works to connect its tequila with those who enjoy it. Its past tech innovations include a VR tour of the Hacienda, a partnership with Amazon Echo where consumers could talk to Alexa just like they would any bartender for cocktail suggestions and it has tapped Foursquare to leverage location data across the globe to serve-up local flavor drink recipes.
Adrian Parker, vice president of marketing at Patrón Spirits, leads the brand’s most recent tech innovations, including The Patrón Experience. He talks about how this new technology is a major moment for the future of experiential marketing and how he envisions using AR down the line.
CHIEF MARKETER: What is the strategy behind The Patrón Experience?
PARKER: [The Experience] is the latest release in our overall approach to innovation. In using digital and mobile marketing, we made the pledge to be the leader in the space to test new technologies to enhance the consumer experience.
CM: How have digital and tech innovations changed the consumer experience?
ADRIAN PARKER: The product experience has evolved from a focus on the bottle and the liquid inside to learning about the authenticity and versatility of Patrón Tequila. We want to let people into our experience.
CM: How does that work?
AP: The app allows users to see where we distill, ferment and handcraft every bottle. But we want to have fun with it. We use the AR engine to create something that’s exciting. It’s a great opportunity to use the technology to tell a story that we have already been telling for years.
CM: What is iOS 11 with ARKit?
AP: These are the two launches that Apple released earlier this month—the new operating system iOS 11 enhanced the capabilities so users can have access to ARKit. They don’t need the new phone; previous versions of the iPhone have been updated.
CM: How has this tech changed strategies for marketers?
AP: AR is now applicable to a larger number of people. The punch line is that AR really has finally reached a tipping point. It’s been clunky. You had to download things to get access to it. What Apple did was launch it as a native part of their operating system. They scaled AR in a way that hasn’t previously been done allowing marketers to have that technology at their fingertips.
CM: How are you marketing the app?
AP: With any product launch, whether new tequila or technology, we approach it with earned, owned and paid media. Word of mouth is the most important part of spreading the word. We’re marketing the app on our website and social channels. We can leverage our massive audience to garner a pretty good amount of eyeballs to download the app. We invest in a moderate amount of paid media across social channels and app download networks. We build it into our paid media plan. Launching the app is fun and exciting but driving eyeballs and engagement to it are equally important.
CM: Are you doing any educational marketing so people understand how the app words?
AP: We produced a demo video showing people what it is and what it’s about so they know about what it is before they download it.
CM: What is the investment necessary?
AP: The investment required to produce quality AR experiences is a fraction of the cost of immersive VR. We’re talking five to six figures versus seven. The most important factor is finding a capable development partner who can not only launch an app, but maintain, update and evolve the experience.
CM: You say your marketing is evolving. What do you mean by that?
AP: What we speak to is that the consumer journey is so much more advanced than it was even five years ago so the amount of media and social they consume and the amount of alternatives to find product reviews, information and education has significantly increased. The modern marketers tool kit has really evolved to a plethora of so many cool, exciting enhancements: AR, AI enabled voice technology, virtual reality. You can have a chat with a bot that will walk you through Patrón recipe options and will interact with you to get the right recipe.
CM: How do you envision using AR down the line?
AP: What we’re building today using the first generation of branded technology is the horse-and-carriage to tomorrow’s sports car. In the near future we’ll be physically interacting with our favorite Patrón bartender (bot-tender) as he scans the kitchen to recommend cocktails based on available ingredients. After he demonstrates how to make, shake and drink the cocktail, he’ll start a party playlist for your guests and order more tequila for next time. Patrón is on year three of a five-year journey to totally reimagine how spirits consumers connect with the products they drink and the people who make them, all powered by a phone.
CM: As a marketer in a highly competitive category, what keeps you up at night?
AP: We like to say we don’t stay up at night, we keep other brands up at night. With a 70-percent share of a growing tequila category, one of the obvious hurdles facing most industry leaders is what I call the “gravity of good enough.” Apathy. But every year we push ourselves, our partners and even our consumers to expect more from us. There are 1,200 other tequila brands in the world but less than 1% of them make tequila using a small batch, handcrafted process like ours. We thrive on perfection and like to raise our own bar, whether it’s technology or tequila.
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