August 11 2021  |  Spirits & Tobacco

The post-pandemic landscape: future of ambassadors & tastings

By Laura Shirk

Starting with the seedlings in its greenhouses, Mezcales Casa Armando systematically plants, harvests, cooks, mashes, ferments, distills, ages and bottles all of its products in-house

Heading into the second half of 2021, Mezcales Casa Armando continues to navigate the global pandemic and authentically share its product offering by collaborating closely with its partners in both the duty free channel and domestic market. While in conversation with Gustavo Valdor, International Commercial Director, Mezcales Casa Armando, about the future of virtual tastings and hybrid business models post-recovery, he tells Duty Free & Travel Retailing Magazine that the company is encountering each daily circumstance as a team.

Although current megatrends in the wine and spirits travel retail category include convenience, “better for you” options and at-home consumption, Valdor notes that Mezcales Casa Armando is focusing on its consumer engagement since genuine connection is more important than ever during these unprecedented times. With this in mind, the team is prioritizing the way in which it shares information about how to consume and where to find its product range, providing a full 360° experience.

Within the duty free channel, Mezcales Casa Armando represents the top three selling Mezcals: El Recuerdo Mezcal, Zignum Mezcal and Señorío Mezcal. Since each Mezcal has its own distinct taste profile and character, the team is constantly pivoting between three different outlooks; however, when it comes to communicating with its duty free partners, the company acts as one.

“The industry has had to balance different venue restrictions, requiring close coordination between partners. As we continue to experience airports with varying degrees of restrictions around the world, from limited in-store capacity to ‘hands-free’ purchasing, we are in regular communication with our duty free partners,” explains Valdor.

Tasting kits & sensorial elements:

With the return of travel in sight, Mezcales Casa Armando expects that the post-pandemic landscape will present consumers with the choice to participate in virtual or in-person tastings. Valdor notes that the constantly adapting role of brand ambassador is important to successfully sharing Mezcales Casa Armando’s message across its wide consumer base. According to Valdor, considering positive feedback and the convenience and efficiency of the experience, the team believes that even through virtual sessions, participants can learn more about the mysticism, heritage and history of Mezcal. Moving forward, it’s essential that brand ambassadors can communicate their passion, energy and knowledge both online and in-person.

“Mezcales Casa Armando has developed a dynamic range of materials to support virtual tastings such as tasting kits that comprise our product range, glassware and non-perishable foodstuffs for pairing, which are curated to complement each audience members’ background.

“To enhance the remote tasting experience, we include sensorial dynamics and elements that help to define the difference between taste and aroma and encourage attendees to ‘visit’ the city of Oaxaca and our distillery. As an example, we include sample pieces of our oak barrels and the local black ceramic in our kits,” states Valdor.

Pointing out that mid-pandemic presented the opportunity to re-engineer the tasting process, he adds that the company’s new approach to the overall consumer experience is a product of the pandemic that has helped to maintain the interest of its virtual audience and an invaluable tool.

Listen & learn:

When asked about key takeaways from the last year that Mezcales Casa Armando has applied to its business model in travel retail, Valdor responds with three lessons. Firstly, he remarks the reaction time from production to point of sale needs to remain the same as pre-COVID. “When a consumer is seeking a product and not seeing their regular brand, they will find an alternate option, which potentially translates into the loss of a consumer,” he comments.

Secondly, quality cannot be compromised. The company operates its production from seed to bottle and takes pride in overseeing every step of the process. Starting with the seedlings in its greenhouses, Mezcales Casa Armando systematically plants, harvests, cooks, mashes, ferments, distills, ages and bottles all of its products in-house.

Thirdly, listen to and learn from the consumer. When all is said and done, the team creates Mezcal for the consumer with the goal to share the spirit and its culture with the rest of the world – and this requires Mezcales Casa Armando to deliver without exception. The team’s most recent promotional focus involved delivering a DIY tasting experience to reveal how Mezcal is truly relished in Mexico.

El Recuerdo Mezcal 5 Seconds:

Discussing upcoming plans in the travel retail channel, Valdor states Mezcales Casa Armando is working on the launch of El Recuerdo Mezcal 5 Seconds; a Reposado Abocado variant with five worms in the bottle. This variant celebrates UFC’s Jorge Masvidal’s fastest knockout in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, which occurred in 2020. He says El Recuerdo’s partnership with Masvidal represents Mezcal’s fighting spirit – a spirit born from family tradition – and adds the category is now a “heavy hitter” in the market.

El Recuerdo Mezcal 5 Seconds will first launch in the US domestic market; followed by the Mexico domestic market and Mexico duty free. A select number of cases will be available at duty free outlets worldwide.

REGION Americas

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