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April 6, 2023
Lukass Strungs

There’s more to occasions than the time of day

I was recently kicking around the WARC case study database when I came across this really interesting article based on a survey conducted by Growth Scope. It was talking about how in the alcohol category, occasions are the most crucial factor in a customer’s willingness to pay.

This isn’t necessarily news to anybody who’s worked on alcohol; we all know a consumer purchasing for a birthday or wedding is going to spend more money than someone buying for a weeknight tipple. The article goes one step further though, by exploring how nuanced the nature of occasions can be. For example, the number of people we’re drinking with can have an impact on how much we’re willing to spend. When drinking with two to three others, consumers are 15% more likely to select premium options than non-premium and are willing to spend 22% more on their premium choice. However, when the group number jumps up to four to seven others, consumers are equally likely to select a non-premium product as a premium one and are only willing to spend 11% more on the premium products they do buy.

Of course, this research utilises survey data, and we all know reported behaviour rarely reflects actual behaviour. But whatever you think about the study’s methodology, it calls for further consideration when developing occasion-based marketing. For the past few years, beer marketing has been focused on owning occasions. As far as I can tell, most brands base occasions around time, culture or an activity. “It’s the drink you have at sunset” or “the beer you have when fishing.” But as the research has just shown us, there’s so much more to consider.

So, what are all the considerations when choosing an occasion?

Traditional occasion marketing of alcohol is of course still relevant – VB certainly seems to belong more in an afternoon post-work context than in a nightclub (the launch of VB’s new VX variation seems to be homing in on that) but as the research shows, that’s not enough.Factors to consider are:

  • How many people are involved in the occasion
  • The nature of the occasion and environment
  • The type of relationship with others (partner vs. friends vs. family)
  • Type of food being eaten
  • Enjoyment vs. Refreshment

These factors appear to reflect system 1 short cuts we’ve all learned are so important in setting up our messaging since these factors can have major implications on a person’s purchasing behaviour.


Based on the significant variations in willingness to spend and product choice based on occasion, it would follow that these should help inform other marketing choices, such as media purchases and creative execution. For example, if you’re trying to improve your price elasticity and start charging more for your product, you may choose to depict an occasion that typically involves no more than three to four people, such as a double date, in an upmarket location.

Maybe you’ve already anchored yourself to an occasion such as after-work drinks. In this case, it might be prudent to develop creative that shows a smaller group of friends enjoying these drinks, rather than just one or two or half a dozen.

What’s a well-defined occasion?

As a starting point, don’t create an occasion that’s vague or could be misconstrued. Be clear. Is it drinks with mates? If so, how many mates? At what time of day? What are you doing with those mates?

One thing you can do straight away is be clear about what your occasions mean. Sweathead has a great tip for this – use monogamous words. Monogamous words are faithful words because they don't have many other meanings. Like ‘pineapple.’ When you hear the word pineapple, you only think of one thing, right? When you hear the word ‘fruit,’ you don’t. Similarly, ‘celebrating’ with friends can mean different things to different people, while a ‘birthday’ is much clearer.

Understanding the right way to frame occasions is critical in alcohol marketing. Not only can it help you tailor your messaging and creative to reach your target audience, it can also help you with everything from product development to pricing.

These sorts of “moments that matter” exist in all categories, and AFFINITY loves nothing more than identifying them, then helping our clients use them for maximum impact. If you’d like some insights into the moments that matter for your brand, we’d love to chat. Reach out to


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