Published Date

NEW YORK, NY JANUARY 28, 2020 – Customer brand loyalty has increased on average 20 percent (20%) from 2019 to 2020 across 85 leading B2C, B2B, and D2C categories, which encompass 16 industry sectors and 833 brands, according to Brand Keys 25th annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index® (CLEI), conducted by the New York-based brand engagement and customer loyalty research consultancy (


“Analysts, consulting firms, and research practices that declared brand loyalty dead are talking about a consumer loyalty model that expired in 1990,“ noted Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. “Back then loyalty was a black-and-white issue for consumers. But loyalty didn’t die. Rather, it has evolved in a more complex marketplace with more sophisticated alcoholic beverage consumers.”


How complex? Half (50%) of the path-to-purchase category loyalty drivers in the alcoholic beverage category have new, consumer-generated configurations. Attribute, benefit, and value components that form the components of those drivers have grown more complex, more connected, and more emotional in 40% of the sectors.


Alcoholic Beverage Brands’ 2020 Loyalty Focus


Numbers in parentheses indicate YOY increases of in-market brand loyalty.


Jose Cuervo (Tequila +9%)

Jack Daniels (Whiskey +7%)

Miller Lite (Light Beer +5%)

Svedka (Vodka +4%)

Corona Extra (Regular Beer ---)


Defining Loyalty For The 21st Century


“Two decades into the 21st century the world has more complex brand and mediascapes. It’s more data-rich and technologically-intensive. Consumers are more complex, connected, and complicated. They connect with each other before even considering connecting to a brand and assess loyalty relative to how they envision an ‘Ideal’ brand,” said Passikoff.


“It only takes a nanosecond for consumers to note how well a brand is ‘seen’ to meet their expectations for the path-to-purchase drivers that defines behavior toward and fidelity to a brand. That’s the 21st century version of brand loyalty,” said Passikoff. “Brands that can meet consumer expectations will always see higher levels of engagement, loyalty, and sales.”


Independent validations by the ARF verify that definition. Correlations between assessments based on this updated definition of loyalty and consumer behavior are 0.80+. “Marketers who focus on so-called ‘loyalty programs’ expecting real brand allegiance, totally miss the point,” noted Passikoff.


Orders Of Path-to-Purchase Loyalty Driver Change, Becomes More Complex


“Categories and brands are not static” noted Passikoff. “They change, and how consumers view, compare, and buy, are governed by the order and level of expectation of the key loyalty drivers in any category.”


Disruptive market forces, technology, innovation and relentless competition all play a part in how the order of loyalty drivers shift and why consumer-value components become more complex. “But the end results are predominantly driven by consumers’ attitudes and desires, much of which is unarticulated,” noted Passikoff, “and virtually all of which are emotionally-based.”


“Brand Keys’ predictive research methodology identifies shifts 12 to 18 months before they appear in traditional brand tracking, focus groups or traditional research surveys based on a 20th century definition of ‘loyalty’.”


The order of importance of drivers represents a value continuum that consumers navigate, largely unconsciously, in their purchase and loyalty journeys. Consumers hold specific expectations for each category loyalty driver and use their expectations for the Category Ideal as a “yardstick” against which they measure brand performance. Brands that best meet consumer expectations always have the most-loyal customers and, not-so-coincidently, the strongest sales and highest profits.


For example, below is the order of the path-to-purchase loyalty drivers for the Regular Beer category in 2019. The numbers in parentheses below the drivers indicate the percent-contribution the individual driver makes to brand loyalty. Changes of + 5% are significant at the 95% confidence level.



For the Regular Beer category in 2020, not only has the order of the loyalty drivers changed (and how consumers assess these brands), but the attribute, benefit, and value components that make up the drivers have become more complex, representing a genuine consumer perspective because the output of the model obviates the fact that consumers don't think how they feel, they don't say what they think, and don't do what they say they will.



Loyalty Harder For Brands In “Commoditized” Sectors


“The majority of 2020’s categories and brands will have to address these more complex paths-to-purchase loyalty drivers and more emotionally-based customer values,” noted Passikoff. “But some categories have been inert, without changes to the order of loyalty drivers and no added consumer-value complexity. These brands start to look like commodities and competing in a commoditized sector makes for a much tougher battle for loyalty.”


Categories approaching commodity status included: gasoline, light beer, cosmetics (mass), pet food, home improvement retail, bottled water, yogurt products, economy hotels, and packaged cold cuts.


A complete list of the CLEI’s 85 categories and the brands that exhibited 2020 loyalty focus and best meet consumer expectations can be found at:</a></p>"

Published Date

January 28, 2020

Boulder, CO — Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, a Colorado company with deep Irish roots announces Hard Chaw Strong Irish Whiskey Cream (, the first and only Irish cream on the market with a bold percentage of alcohol.


The dairy in traditional Irish creams curdles when alcohol rises beyond 17 percent ABV. As a result, they are low-alcohol beverages. But after more than seven years of research and development, Hard Chaw created a 50-proof Irish cream, which is 50 percent more alcohol than all other brands.


“Finally, people who savor Irish cream’s beautiful flavor no longer will need to fortify their glass with a shot of whiskey,” said Hard Chaw founder Colm O’Neill, a native of Ireland’s County Cork. “It’s about time that one of Ireland’s many gifts to the world now matches the strength and vigor of the people who created it. We named our spirit in their honor.”


<p class="gmail-body">In Ireland, hard chaws are tough cookies, people full of grit and resilience who never back down.


O’Neill, a former professional Gaelic football star, is a bit of a hard chaw. If not for his persistence, Hard Chaw would not today grace bars and liquor store shelves. 


It all started with a cocktail, one with a terrible name.


As a longtime owner of Irish pubs in the United States, O’Neill sold oceans of the “Car Bomb” cocktail, which involves both Irish cream and Irish whiskey. He wondered why the bottle of Irish cream alone was never enough — it always needed the shot of whiskey. That’s when he learned about the technical problem of bottling dairy and alcohol, and began his multi-year quest to craft a solution.


Two spirits give Hard Chaw its unique vigor: Irish whiskey and poitin, also known as “Irish moonshine.” No other Irish cream takes advantage of poitin, a treasure little known beyond the island. From the beginning O’Neill sought to include it, along with Irish whiskey, in Hard Chaw’s formula. 


Monks in Ireland began crafting poitin in the 6th century, and for hundreds of years it was a staple made on farms across the country. In 1661, however, government officials outlawed poitin. They heavily taxed alcohol, but as a spirit normally made in rural barns, poitin escaped the purview of the taxers.


In 1997 Irish officials lifted the ban. And now, distillers across the island are launching brands of artisan poitin.


“We are eager to introduce the ultimate hard chaw spirit, poitin, to more and more people,” said O’Neill. “Poitin is Irish history, in a bottle. We love it, and felt it simply had to be in the world’s first strong Irish cream.”

Published Date

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, Jan. 24, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Restaurants Canada welcomes today’s announcement from Alcool NB Liquor (ANBL) unveiling a new rebate program to be offered to bar and restaurant licensees purchasing beverage alcohol for their establishments. The program will come into effect April 1, 2020.

“Bars and restaurants make up a sizeable share of the ANBL customer base and this new program will go a long way to strengthen their ability to contribute to the province’s tourism and hospitality industry,” said Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada Vice President – Atlantic Canada. “This is welcome news for our licensed members in New Brunswick, who have long awaited a volume discount on beverage alcohol similar to what is available in the other Maritime provinces.”

As part of ANBL’s new 3-year plan to become more competitive with neighbouring jurisdictions, its new program will offer licensees a 5 to 10 per cent rebate on wine and spirit products, and a 1 per cent rebate on certain categories of beer products. Further details of the program will be announced at a later date.

New program fulfills key ask from Raise the Bar report

Every two years, Restaurants Canada releases its Raise the Bar report on liquor policies impacting foodservice and hospitality businesses across the country. The 2019 Raise the Bar report called on New Brunswick to make good on its promise to give volume discounts to bar and restaurant licensees.

Restaurants Canada has been working closely with ANBL to bring about this critical policy change and looks forward to continuing to improve conditions for the province’s licensed bars and restaurants.

Learn more:

Published Date

CALGARY, Jan. 24, 2020 /CNW/ - Great Plains Craft Spirits (Great Plains) received a Gold Medal and the Award of Excellence for Best New Whisky at the 2020 Canadian Whisky Awards ( for its debut product, a western Canadian 18-year-old whisky that was finished for over twelve months in Jerez Brandy casks, bottled at cask strength, non-chill filtered, with no colouring.   


How did a start-up produce an award-winning 18 year old whisky? Great Plains acquired several batches of 17-year-old 100% corn whisky originally from the old Potter's distillery in Kelowna B.C. One batch was then transferred from the original bourbon barrels to twenty-two freshly emptied vintage Brandy de Jerez casks. Then, after more than twelve months of finishing, it was blended and bottled at high proof (54.5% ABV) without colouring or chill filtering producing a taste and character unlike anything else on the market. Calgary whisky specialists, Kensington Wine Market, are currently carrying the product and their assessment concludes: "silky at 54.5%, this is a unique twist on Canadian whisky, distinctly Canadian with a spicy-dark fruit flourish."

"As a new company, we are extremely grateful for the recognition of our debut product. It's a culmination of over three years of passion and hard work. But we're even more excited about the other unique products in development. We have another batch of 17-year-old whisky from the same distillery that is in the process of a 24 month long finish in vintage Cognac barrels that were re-coopered to a small size! We also have a very special and rare 34 year-old whisky that's currently finishing in Armagnac Barrels. Our goal is to produce limited runs of interesting whiskies that appeal to enthusiasts who can appreciate the uniqueness of our products. Our limited-run whiskies are custom crafted with expressions that simply aren't available from the large producers".

Published Date

Vancouver, BC (January 22nd, 2020) – The Sixth Annual Best Sommelier of BC competition came to an exciting and intense finish as the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) announced its 2020 winner this week at Rogers Arena. Out of a grouping of 15 contestants, Campagnolo’s Peter Van de Reep was awarded the coveted title of BC Sommelier of the Year. Peter now goes on to the Canadian finals that will be held in the Okanagan this fall.
The CAPS BC Sommelier title is determined by a comprehensive skill set competition that includes a written exam and a hands-on practical test that pits three finalists against each other to determine their knowledge on a number of wine-related topics. The competitors are challenged on their know-how about sparkling wine service, red wine decanting, food and wine pairings, menu writing as well as blind tastings of cocktails, red, and white wines. For this year’s competition, the distinguished panel of judges included Barbara Philip, Sebastien Le Goff, and Jason Yamasaki, who crowned Peter from Campagnolo Main as the 2020 BC Sommelier of the Year, with Gooseneck Hospitality’s Christina Hartigan as the first runner-up, and Leagh Barkley taking an admirable third place for the second year in a row.

“I am humbled to have had the opportunity to compete in this competition amongst so many highly regarded industry colleagues and to be recognized as one of BC’s finalists,” says Leagh. “Congrats to all the competitors who bring their expertise and passion for wine to each and every service for the sheer enjoyment of their guests.”
Once again, Toptable Group was well represented in the mix with Daewhan Lim (CinCin Ristorante + Bar), Michael Littleford (CinCin Ristorante + Bar), Calen Macdonald (Bluewater Cafe + Raw Bar), Perdy Sawyers (Il Caminetto), and Christopher Edens (Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar) also vying for the province’s top title.

“To have these dedicated professionals represent many of our restaurants exemplifies the industry’s commitment and passion to hospitality and what differentiates Toptable Group from a service perspective,” says President Michael Doyle. “This talent allows us to deliver a level of dining experience to our guests that sets Toptable Group apart and becomes a core pillar of who we are. Congratulations to all the 2020 competitors!”

Wins for Toptable Group in the past have included: Shane Taylor, Wine Director at CinCin Ristorante + Bar winning the 2017 BC Sommelier of the Year, Samantha Rahn, former Wine Director at Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar, taking home the title in 2013 while Owen Knowlton, Restaurant and Wine Director at the former West Restaurant, earned the accolade in 2011.


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