Diageo invests in personalisation as part of a three-pronged marketing strategy that includes building excitement amongst existing customers to create loyalty

Diageo, a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, is launching a gifting pilot to help people “connect” as it looks to build on the trend for personalised products. The initiative, called ‘Message in A Bottle’ enables people to gift a bottle of Single Malt Scotch whisky with a unique video message.

Created by agency MullenLowe Profero, consumers can upload a selection of pictures and a message from a smartphone or PC, which gets turned into a 30-second video. A QR code is then put on the bottle label, allowing the recipient to access the personal message when they scan the code using their smartphone camera. The video can also be downloaded and shared via social media.

Diageo’s head of digital innovation Benni Lickfett says, “We know people are looking to personalise gifting and find unique opportunities that enable them to connect with family and friends. We want to use technology to help create impactful celebrations and Message in a Bottle is a great new way to raise a dram to people’s best memories and experiences.”

The initiative is launching as a pilot in partnership with direct-to-consumer site The Whisky Shop ahead of Father’s Day. It will be available until 21 June for shoppers buying a bottle of Talisker, Lagavulin or The Singleton at no extra cost.

The pilot follows the launch of Diageo’s AI whisky selector, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse people’s flavour preferences and match them with their perfect whisky. That initiative is now being rolled out in markets across the world following its success in Europe.

Diageo believes its whisky brands, in particular, lend themselves to personalisation because they are more of a luxury item. Diageo-owned whisky brand Johnnie Walker opened a direct-to-consumer flagship store in Madrid in November 2018. It provided a chance to try a range of personalisation services for the first time.

Speaking to Marketing Week at the time, Johnnie Walker’s Global Head of Retail and Strategic Partnerships, Greg Klingaman said personalisation makes people feel more connected because they are “participating in the brand”.

Klingaman explains, “We do personalisation in the context of brand activations, pop-ups, maybe a little bit in travel retail, but what we’ve done in Madrid has frankly become the centrepiece of why people come to the store and why they buy.”

The focus on personalisation is part of Diageo’s three-pronged marketing plan to “recruit, re-recruit and disrupt”. Diageo noted last year it was slowing innovation as it looked to foster current products and create more impactful launches that would “recruit” customers at scale. Nevertheless, it is still dedicated to smaller innovations that help “re-recruit” existing customers and ensure loyalty. Plus, it sees personalisation as a way to “disrupt” and provide excitement around brands.

Michael Ward, Diageo’s Global Head of Innovation, explained last year: “[It’s about] being more experimental – test, learn and iterate – as we’re looking at the longer-term opportunities that are not necessarily going to help us next quarter, or next year.”

He added: “One of the things we are trying to do with disruption is planting a lot more acorns that we think can become oaks but doing it in a much more thoughtful, patient way.

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