“I WAS EAGER TO WORK WITH BRANDS THAT ARE WILLING TO TAKE A RISK”
Kahlúa and Malibu have an own lab. However, it has nothing to do with mixing fluids or experimenting with new flavors. This lab, called the Living Lab, experiments with stuff like connected bottles, interactive bar tops and VR shops. Sounds fun, right? But let’s hear why a spirits company is working with technology like NFC chips and VR headsets. Head of the lab Johan Radojewski, explains.
What is Living Lab, and how did you end up here at TAC?
The Living Lab is basically a creative innovation hub for Malibu and Kahlúa, were we ask ourselves how we can create new experiences for our fanbase using the latest developments within digital and technology. Our goal is to add value for our consumers, and to reach them in new, creative ways.
Before I joined The Absolut Company, I worked in marketing for a huge company in the consumer goods industry, with some of the biggest brands in the world. That was fun of course, and it gave me tons of experience, but we mostly focused the products’ functional benefits in our marketing over there. I was eager to work with brands that are willing to take a risk and communicate its benefits in more creative ways and build a lifestyle around it. I guess the short answer is: I wanted more creative freedom.
So, it’s all about creativity and innovation, but what has actually come out of the lab so far?
Our most successful project by far is the Malibu Connected Bottle, which is basically what it sounds like. It’s a Malibu bottle with an NFC chip implanted in the label. That chip gives Malibu consumers the ability to interact with the actual bottle. If they put their phone next to the bottle, we are able to provide them with everything from recipes to highly personalized content. In turn, they give us valuable data on how, when and where they interact with the product.
It all began with us wanting a direct line to our consumers and a two-way communication with them. We would love to be there in person and meet each consumer, to learn more and – of course – to socialize. Unfortunately, that’s impossible, so what the connected bottle does is bringing us closer without being in-the-face. It’s basic problem solving, really.
And you also launched an internal VR shop, right?
Yes, our local marketing teams can now order point of sale material for events via our very own “VR shop”. Previously, we sent PDFs from which they had to imagine what everything would look like. Now, they can get a much better idea of the end result, by walking around in a virtual bar or store and experiencing it in the same way consumers will.
Is technology part of everything you come up with?
Not in theory, but in practice it might seem so. There are a few reasons for that. First of all, we decided a while ago that creativity should be at front and center of everything we do as we truly believe it is crucial for building our business ahead of competition. Secondly, we want to lead the way in terms of marketing and PR, both within the Pernod Ricard group and within the industry. We also want to find new ways of connecting to our consumers. If you take all of that into account, and given the fact that it’s 2018, you simply can’t look past technology.
So what’s the ultimate goal or dream scenario for the Living Lab?
The dream scenario would be if Living Lab seized to exist as a concept, and instead was incorporated in the company’s structure. We started Living Lab to shake things up, to think of our consumers in a different way and to break new ground in terms of marketing. We’ve done exactly that, and we’re proving bit by bit that it’s working. If our method proves successful in long-term, I hope the entire company will be a Living Lab.