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How Liquor Stores Can Build Customer Loyalty

March 9, 2021 Strategy

Building customer loyalty isn't different from building loyalty in general. It requires establishing a relationship and earning trust. You probably wouldn't feel a sense of loyalty towards a stranger, and that's how your customers could feel about your liquor store if you haven't developed relationships with them. Sure, your customers stop in to buy wine, beer, and spirits from you, but would they go out of their way to shop at your liquor store if they discover your competitor is conveniently located, too? Or would they shop at whichever store happens to be the closest depending on where in town they are at the moment?

How Liquor Stores Can Build Customer Loyalty

Building customer loyalty isn't different from building loyalty in general. It requires establishing a relationship and earning trust. You probably wouldn't feel a sense of loyalty towards a stranger, and that's how your customers could feel about your liquor store if you haven't developed relationships with them. Sure, your customers stop in to buy wine, beer, and spirits from you, but would they go out of their way to shop at your liquor store if they discover your competitor is conveniently located, too? Or would they shop at whichever store happens to be the closest depending on where in town they are at the moment?

Using strategic personalization in all of your communications with customers can help you stand out from your competitors. But beware, these days consumers have a sixth sense when it comes to recognizing phony personalization. They can easily identify form letters even if their first names have been plugged in. Likewise, just because your POS system provides your cashiers with your customers first names to use during the checkout process doesn't mean the checkout experience is helping to build customer relationships and two-way trust and loyalty.

There's so much more you, as an owner of a liquor store, can do to build authentic relationships with your customers so that they view your store as though it's a friend in the neighborhood rather than a stranger. Offering real personalization to your customers, both experientially and via technology, where the benefits stand out and the customer is always rewarded for choosing your location is the best way to build the kind of relationships with customers that lead to loyalty.

BUILD CUSTOMER LOYALTY WITH IN-STORE PROMOTIONS 

When liquor store owners create opportunities to interface and mingle with customers, they are able to learn a lot about each shopper and also gain valuable insights about consumer preferences and favorites. This is why it can be highly beneficial to host in-store promotions such as wine tastings, liquor samplings, mixology classes, and other experiential events.

Even if your liquor store is located on a busy street corner in a major city, you've likely noticed the usual suspects stop in, i.e. familiar faces that naturally patronize your store. But by hosting in-store promotions that invite your naturally loyal customers to chat so that you can get to know them better, you will increase the chances of encouraging them to enroll in your customer loyalty rewards program or provide their contact information for you to create customer accounts in your POS system.

Similarly, you can increase the chances of doing the same for new customers that you don't necessarily recognize. Hosting in-store promotional events will also help you to understand the primary demographic of your customer base, which you can use to personalize future promotions. Are most of your customers middle-aged professionals? College and grad-school aged consumers? Or do you have a fair mix of both? Depending on the demographic(s), you can create segements, or "groups", of customers in your POS and loyalty rewards program so that your future marketing can be as personalized as possible.

A Quick Glance At In-Store Promotional Ideas for Your Liquor Store

Here are three in-store promotional ideas that will leave a positive impression on your customers.

Wine Tastings

Hosting a wine tasting at your liquor store accomplishes more than increasing the sales of the particular wines you're promoting. Stick to three wines, either new arrivals or older products that haven't moved, such as a red, a white, and a rose. As your sales staff offer samples and chat with shoppers, they encourage customers to sign up for your e-newsletter, provide their mobile number, and enroll in your customer loyalty rewards program. Remember, the goal of any wine tasting event is to collect customer contact information that you can use for your direct marketing efforts in the future.

Liquor Samplings

Offering your in-store shoppers samples of liquor is equally effective, however please be sure that liquor tastings are legal based on your state laws and never allow a customer to become inebriated when sampling. When conducting a liquor sampling, it's wise to offer samples of mixed cocktails for two reasons. Firstly, it helps to sell additional mixer products such as vermouth, triple sec, and margarita mix. And secondly, it gives customers ideas and information about creating their own cocktails if they buy the spirits they're sampling.

Mixology Classes

Hosting mixology classes might not be possible for every liquor store, depending on state laws and also literal space inside your location. But if possible, these events are great in terms of developing personal relationships with your customers. Scheduling mixology classes will take more organizational work in the beginning, but once you collect customer contact information to enter into your POS system and loyalty rewards program (if the customer consents), then you will be able to easily contact your customer base via direct messages to invite them to sign up for your classes. Mixology classes can even be a reward that's offered in your customer loyalty rewards program, but more on that later.

BUILD CUSTOMER LOYALTY WITH MOBILE MARKETING STRATEGIES

Liquor store owners who are able to directly contact and communicate with customers even when those customers are not inside the store location succeed at fostering deeper relationships with their customers, especially when personalization is used while communicating. Of course, digital marketing and mobile marketing will only be possible if you collect your customers' cell phone numbers for entry into your POS or your loyalty rewards program, but once you do, you will have an immediate, effective method to market to them anytime.

Using SMS, or short message service, to contact your customers via text messages provides one of the best methods of directly alerting your customers to upcoming discounts, deals, and sales. You can also send them periodic offers, as well as a shortened hyperlink to enroll in your loyalty program online. Once they do, they will be able to download the loyalty app, assuming your loyalty program comes with one. This will enable you to contact them via push notifications through the app. While using push notifications has a slightly slower open rate than SMS text, you can include photos and graphics in all of your app marketing, unlike SMS test, which tends to include only short worded descriptions.

Social media can also play an important role in building customer loyalty, because when customers engage with your brand on social media, they will begin to organically feel a sense of growing connection with you. The trick is getting your customers to follow your liquor store's social media accounts and to like, comment, and share your posts. If you offer loyalty rewards incentives in exchange for social media participation, then social media engagement will increase faster. 

A Quick Glance At Digital Marketing Strategies for Your Liquor Store

Here are three digital marketing strategies that will increase customer engagement and loyalty to your brand.

Personalized Deals, Discounts, and Sales Incentives

When you have a thorough method of collecting customer data digitally via your POS or customer loyalty program, you can take advantage of the computerized system's artificial intelligence to streamline your efforts to personalize all digital marketing campaigns. Once a customer has consented to allowing your cashier to create a customer profile within the POS system that stores the customer's contact information and shopping history, you can program the digital marketing campaigns you send to that particular customer to be so personalized that they are only contacted with product promotions that match their wine, spirits, beer, and mixer favorites. Your loyalty program is capable of collecting even more detailed customer data, which you can use to craft personalized promotional campaigns to ensure the most successful marketing.

Monthly Text-to-Win Sweepstakes

Running a sweepstakes via SMS text message campaign is just one example of the kind of mobile marketing you can launch. If you offer a sweepstakes like this on a monthly basis and the prize or prizes that can be won are fun, interesting, and exclusive, you will discover an increase in overall customer engagement with your brand. For example, new product releases that aren't yet available for sale in your liquor store can be used as exciting sweepstakes prizes. Generate buzz about upcoming releases and inspire loyalty from your customer base by offering top shelf liquor, organic red wine, or seasonal craft beer, for instance. Even if a customer does not win, they will learn about the new product and be inclined to buy it anyway.

Loyalty Rewards Program Incentives

Distinguish your unique liquor store brand from the competition and facilitate loyalty from your customers with a customer loyalty rewards program. Rewards programs have been proven to generate customer loyalty, and as a technology, these programs are ideal for recording each customer's browsing and buying history, which can be leveraged in how, when, and why you market to them in the future. Because rewards programs collect detailed customer data and include SMS text and push notification capabilities to reach members, they can empower liquor store owners to launch personalized promotional campaigns that customers act on.  

BUILD CUSTOMER LOYALTY WITH A DIGITAL REWARDS PROGRAM

You want customers to become so familiar with your brand that they consider visiting your liquor store a celebratory part of their week. Studies and market research has shown that rewards programs are one of the most successful marketing methods among retailers who aim to increase revenue by increasing foot traffic at their location. The more rewards you offer and the simpler it is for loyalty members to cash in on those rewards, the more they will spend at your liquor store.

Liquor Store Loyalty Rewards Program Tips at a Glance

The Loyal~n~Save blog is chalk-full of in-depth articles to help retailers amplify their loyalty rewards program to maximize ROI, so be sure to check it out when you have time. For now, here are some useful tips-at-a-glance to get you started.

First, you'll need to determine what type of rewards to offer your loyal customers. The most basic options are points values, cash back, or access to special discounts. Beyond these, you can offer bonus points when customers enroll in the program as an extra incentive. Bear in mind, consumers actually value special experiences more than they value cash back opportunities, and would prefer to be rewarded with a free sommelier class rather than $15-off their next purchase, believe it or not.

When you contact loyalty members, try to keep your messages short and sweet, and also relevant. Even if you're having a store-wide sale, your marketing should be personalized to each customer, taking their personal preferences into account. For instance, if you're running a summertime sale that discounts all beer in your store by 10%, your email marketing campaign to John should feature John's favorite beer, Heineken, whereas Lucy should receive emails about her favorite hard seltzer, White Claw. Run your special sales promotions via SMS text, app push notification, and additional digital marketing with the same degree of personalization, and you won't go wrong.

All loyalty members will be interested in learning rewards information such as how much money they'll have to spend to earn 10 points, how to earn bonus points, and how many points they'll have to earn before they can start redeeming. Present your loyalty program information clearly like the example above, and you can instantly generate interest across your loyal customer base.

If you've structured a tiered rewards program, for example, it helps to cleverly name each tier so that your participating customers feel a sense of pride and connection to the level they've reached. Since each tier represents a deeper commitment to your brand, the higher the tier, the more perks the customer should be eligible for, like the following:

Your loyalty members will feel excited and encouraged to reach the next "tier" if you present clearly defined offers where, for instance, mid-tier members, i.e. the Connoisseurs, can earn a 50% discount on all mixology classes, whereas top-tier Sommeliers will receive completely free classes and Aficionados, the lowest tier, would have to pay full price for classes. By setting up tiered rewards, discounts, and access to items, you will motivate your loyal customers to earn more points to reach the next tier and unlock exclusive deals that aren't available anywhere else.

Want to learn more about building loyalty at your liquor store? Loyal~n~Save's loyalty rewards program for liquor stores comes with a mobile app that fosters engagement, increases customer satisfaction, and boosts sales. Contact us today to find out which customer loyalty rewards program plan is best for your business.

This article was written by Loyal~n~Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.
Mira Gibson
Mira Gibson

Mira Gibson is a Loyalty Strategist at Loyal~n~Save where she develops innovative marketing strategies for small businesses. She is a content machine and advocates that marketing consistency and frequency is tantamount to success. She’s a passionate writer, avid reader, and she also manages a political blog in her spare time.