I had the pleasure of interviewing Erica Vazquez Bacardi, the Assistant Brand Manager for DUSSE Cognac, a brand owned by Bacardi Limited and Jay-Z. We discussed marketing, branding and social media in her industry.
- Daniella: Hi Erica, thank you so much for doing this. It has been a pleasure meeting you. Can you please briefly share with our audience your title and position and explain your background a bit further.
Erica: Hi Daniella, thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, so glad you asked me to be a part of this. I’m an Assistant Brand Manager for DUSSE Cognac, at Team Enterprise, a cognac brand owned by Bacardi Limited and Jay-Z. I have also worked with this company as a DUSSE account coordinator and Incubation account coordinator. Before that, I was an intern for Bacardi in 2018. I also worked as a PR and Marketing Coordinator at Identity Media PR from 2015 to 2017, an Advertising and Marketing Interns at TURKEL Brands in 2015 and as a Social Media Manager at Pearl Dragon Brands from 2014 to 2015. I am also an alumnus from Florida International University and got my bachelor’s in advertising, go panthers! After that, I got my master’s in public Relations at the University of Miami in 2018.
Daniella: Wow that is so interesting, you’ve had a few different opportunities. I actually did not know Jay-Z had his own liquor, but I’m not surprised with all the celebrities creating their own liquors. I definitely need to try some!
2. Daniella: Now, can you explain your brands distribution channel methods?
Erica: In the liquor industry, we have two channels: on premise and off premise. On premise includes anywhere you would drink alcohol on the premise, for example places like restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc. Off premise would be where you buy alcohol and drink it off premise (take it home, to a friend’s house, etc). Off premise locations also include liquor stores and grocery stores.
3. Daniella: What challenges in distribution channels will marketers see in your industry in the foreseeable future?
Erica: In the foreseeable future, the challenge is returning to normal after the COVID pandemic. Although bars and restaurants are opening back up which you would think returns us to “normalcy,” it hasn’t yet. With that issue, the demand is so high that liquor brands are now running into out-of-stock issues and can’t keep up with the demand. We’ve noticed that people don’t just want to go out — they want to make up for all the time they lost not being able to go out so we’re seeing people are going all out to return some sense of normalcy of what they missed out on for all that time.
Daniella: This has become an issue with many brands and business throughout the pandemic, hopefully soon there will be more supply to keep up with demand.
4. Daniella: What are your most successful marketing strategies and/or channels?
Erica: For our brand currently, one of our most successful strategies and channels is dominating (DUSSE domination) and controlling in the off premise. Cognac in general thrives in the off premise because it’s a liquor that people love to consume at home or take to a friend’s house. So, for DUSSE, we have a program called DUSSE Domination where we deck out liquor stores in our POS (point of sale) those include counter wraps, window displays and more. This helps builds our brand awareness because that is where we lack, and we’ve seen a great return on investment in doing this.
Daniella: That’s definitely a great way to stand out when there are usually so many choices in a liquor store and it’s hard to figure out what is preferred.
5. Daniella: How does your brand try to stand out from the competition?
Erica: We try to stand out by showcasing how luxurious/upscale our liquid is. We do this by ensuring we “keep things classy”. We also strive to create liquid to lips programs (programs where we get consumers to try the brand) because we know our liquid is so good that if a consumer tries it, they will switch from Hennessy or Remy Martin to our brand.
Daniella: Certainly, love that method, it’s a great way to let the brand speak for itself!
6. Daniella: In social media marketing, what’s your favorite platform to use for the brand and why?
Erica: We like to use Instagram as our main platform. It’s the most popular platform currently. It’s a platform that makes sense for this market and brand, Instagram is a great social platform to market to customers and share their best moments. We use it to promote our brand, events, point of sale and more.
Daniella: Instagram has a lot of great marketing opportunities right now and I can see it being a great spot for your brand with POS and events in the future.
7. Daniella: How has your brand grown in the last year?
Erica: Our brand has grown 40-60% every year. This is due largely to our partnership with Roc Nation via Jay-Z (he owns Roc nation) and utilizing their influencer/artist network to build brand awareness and desire. These connections and affiliations have really helped develop our brand’s awareness
8. Daniella: Was your business at all affected by the pandemic? If so how did you shift?
Erica: Our business was largely affected by Covid — but in a good way! Unlike vodkas and tequilas that thrive in the on premise, cognac like I said thrives in the off. So, when everything closed, people were forced to buy alcohol in the off-premise, so our sales skyrocketed. We used this to our advantage and made a larger effort with our off-premise programming.
9. Daniella: Are there any trends that have caught your eye and you believe will grow in the next few years?
Erica: RTDs (ready to drink — so cocktails in a can) have been HUGE and will definitely continue to grow. Unfortunately, this is not a trend DUSSE will jump on (or any cognac brand really) because cognac is associated with more upscale occasions/luxury whereas RTDs are “cheap” and are associated with more casual occasions.
10. Daniella: What was your most successful marketing campaign? Share a bit about why it was such a hit.
Erica: We have a program called DUSSE Day Party which essentially is when we take over an account (a bar) during the daytime for a day and have a big party. We do bottle service with our D’USSE POS, have D’USSE cocktails featured, have big photo ops with a D’USSE backdrop for social, etc. We do a couple in a few of our top markets. It’s a big win for us because it’s an awareness driven program which like I said is where we lack. The goal is to get people to hear about it by becoming aware, joining the party and enjoying what we have to offer!
Daniella: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, this was such a great experience!
Erica: Thank you for having me this was a pleasure!