PortMA measured an event marketing program for a spirits brand in 2015 that covered several markets in the US. The brand team executed more than 3,000 events over the course of a year, so needless to say, it was challenging to analyze the program’s performance on a per activation basis. That being said, we had to narrow our research down to that level when we observed outliers in the KPIs.
If you’re an avid reader of our blog posts (and if you aren’t, I suggest you check them out here), you’ll remember that a common KPI (Key Performance Indicator) in spirits event marketing is sales per activation hour. This program was entirely off-premise activations, so the KPI was measured in bottle sales. Midway through the program, we noticed a significant increase in bottles sold per hour at New York City activations. And when I say significant increase, I mean sales were well ahead of program KPI as well as the off-premise sales benchmark.
Well, that sounds outstanding at first glance, but as an analyst, I have to question why New York City activations are sole outliers in bottle sales. Perhaps that would yield an actionable insight to apply to all markets. This meant digging into the individual activations in that market. Fortunately, it did not take long to notice two events where hundreds more bottles were sold than others. When your average activation sells about four bottles per hour, this is going to stand out.
My first instinct was to believe the hundreds of bottles sold were typos, but the other metrics suggested otherwise. Attendance was also off the charts at these two events, but how could that be? All the activations were off-premise, and these were festival-level numbers. It was time to research outside the numbers, so I contacted the activation team to ask about the two events. They indicated that the events featured a celebrity who was signing bottles. Case closed. Consumers purchased bottles for the autograph. As long as they were leaving with product in hand our client would be pleased, am I right?
The bottom line is, simply reporting the bottle sales outlier without some sort of explanation would have left the client asking questions. It’s not enough to report the numbers by themselves, even if they’re showing sunshine and rainbows. The bottle sales justified the spend on the celebrity appearance, and other markets could benefit from an extra incentive to get consumers through the door.