Why Patrón Jumped Into Augmented Reality — and What’s Next

Patrón Tequila launched an augmented reality (AR) tour of its Jalisco distillery last week. The company has long prided itself on embracing technology: Patrón was among the first spirit brands with virtual reality and Amazon Alexa marketing campaigns.

We recently spoke with Adrian Parker, Patrón’s VP of marketing, about the strategy behind their AR campaign, and what the future holds for high-tech marketing in the spirits industry.

Beverage Dynamics: Why did Patrón jump into AR?
Adrian Parker: Augmented reality has been around for over a decade, but now it’s ready for mass cosumption. With the release of the new Apple iOS 11, augmented reality became a native feature on their operating system. In the past you had to download an AR app, and then find the brand experience, etcetera, so that you were finding a door to a door to a door. Now, with Apple’s immense consumer reach, AR is easily available on a mass scale. It’s ready for prime time.

BD: Who is the demo for AR marketing?
AP: From Patrón’s perspective, we know that people who drink ultra-premium spirits are often more tech-savvy, and more connected socially. There’s a natural overlap there. And these people also like to know more about the things they eat and drink. They’re younger, tech-savvy, and higher-income. But it’s also about that mindset: wanting to learn more about the products they consume. AR is a way to achieve all of that.

Two years ago we were the first spirits brand to launch a virtual reality (VR) campaign. There was a belief at the time that most VR users were hardcore gamers who spent long periods of time in VR. As it turned out, our research indicated that it wasn’t just those gamers, and that most people used VR for only five-to-seven minutes per session. And 75% of VR use is done through mobile devices.

AR is all done on mobile, and it’s not necessarily a majority of gamers. It’s about who wants to use it. At the end of the day, we’re a spirits producer, not a tech company. We see technology as an accelerant for our consumers, not a requirement. We see AR as a way to both educate and entertain consumers.

BD: What’s the advantage of AR over VR?
AP: When we came out with our VR campaign, VR required that consumers have both a headset and the software, so in many ways it was cost prohibitive. AR, instead of transporting you someplace new, is all about interacting with your current place on your terms. It’s not as cost prohibitive and is more accessible.

BD: What are the most important parts of designing AR campaigns?
AP: There are three things, as I see it. First, you must have a story to tell. We tell the story of our distillery and our tequilas. Second, it’s all about the ease of consumer experience. There cannot be significant barriers to entry, like with VR. Third, what can you do to delight the consumer? What extras can you add in? If you click on our bottles of tequila in our AR, you can learn all about their production and flavor notes. But there are also a lot of Easter eggs hidden throughout out AR tour that pop up when you click on certain things.

BD: What’s next for Patrón’s high-tech marketing?
AP: To answer that, it’s first important to know why we use tech. The consumer experience today is more than just the liquid in the bottle. It’s also about how they first found out about that product, who told them about it, how they first consumed it and how they shared it with others. We’ve shifted towards this on-a-moment-based marketing model.

So what’s next? I see mergers between VR, AR and voice-search technology like Alexa. VR platforms will be less about one person and more shared. We’ll be able to take a tour of the distillery together. There will be more mixed reality marketing like this. That’s what’s next.

Kyle Swartz is managing editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece Why Age Whiskey at Sea?

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