Text messaging for beverage marketers

Beverage brands seeking to reach consumers in a world of rapidly-shifting media habits may be overlooking their most reliable line of communication: cell phones.

“The most ubiquitous communication device the world has ever known is the phone,” said Anthony Risicato, CEO of New York-based Mobile Commons.

His company connects brands with consumers through text messages, an advertising vehicle that Risicato said boasts a 95 percent “open rate” – a measure of how often they are read by the recipients. The catch with Mobile Commons and other reputable firms is that they only send messages to users who opt in to the program, he said. Therefore, marketers need to offer an enticement to get consumers to join.

The Coca-Cola Co., Inc. has done this by allowing consumers to text under-cap My Coke Rewards codes. Risicato said he worked with a vodka brand that delivered ice to parties in response to texted requests, and GTOX, an independent anti-hangover shot, simply placed an on-package request for consumer feedback.

“Upwards of 80 percent said they actually thought the product helped them,” said GTOX vice president of marketing Jackson Zapp

Once the marketer has a consumer’s cell phone number, Risicato said, they can use it to ask for more information – like the consumer’s zip code to better target retail placement and promotions – or send coupon codes, text reminders or calls from brand spokespersons.

But not too many. Marketers that abuse their call lists risk driving their consumers to opt out, Risicato said. He recommends marketers limit themselves to one message per week.

Other firms allow marketers to target smart phone consumers – list free – by geographic area. MobiQpons distributes coupons and advertisements to its smart-phone application users based on their GPS coordinates. The firm’s customers choose a geographic location, and MobiQpons distributes promotions to all users within 10 miles. While the program is geared mostly toward restaurants and retailers, it can also work for beverage brands.

Founder and CEO Navneet Aron said beverage marketers could center their promotions on a key retailer. They can also instantly update their central location to correspond with sampling or sponsorship events.