LONDON: Malibu, the coconut-flavoured rum, is creating a buzz among consumers and within its parent group Pernod Ricard with its innovative approach to the internet of things (IoT) and plans on ramping up this approach next year.

Colin Kavanagh, VP/marketing for Malibu and Kahlua, addressed this topic at the recent Festival of Marketing, where he explained that product innovation alone is no longer enough to see off challenger brands.

Established brands have to innovate with new services and experiences, he declared. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Connected bottles and day-to-day tech: how the IoT is gaining ground in FMCG.)

One of the brand’s early forays into this area was the “Coco-nect” cup, which enabled consumers to order another drink by simply twisting the base of the cup to send a cocktail order to bar staff who then mixed it and delivered it to the consumer.

The summer just gone saw the brand experiment with connected bottles, attaching NFC tags to 50,000 bottles sold through UK retailer Tesco. Users tapped the bottle to link it to their phone - no app needed - and gained access to five different digital experiences.

Kavanagh explained that the brand now knows where those users are, the time of day, what the weather is and can suggest a relevant Malibu drink. “That was one of the real benefits we saw,” he said.

It was only a small trial but the (undisclosed) results were clearly encouraging. “We have big ambitions for the connected bottle,” he said. “We will do a much bigger pilot this coming summer. Our ultimate ambition is, why not have every Malibu bottle connected in future?”

Kavanagh added that the success of these two projects had dramatically changed the image of the brand within Pernod Ricard.

“The internal fight for hearts and minds is as important sometimes as the fight for the consumer,” he noted. “It’s helped us argue the case at headquarters for more investment.”

Sourced from WARC