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Heineken USA details tech drive to scale its path to purchase

Earlier this week, Heineken USA's marketing manager Amberly Hilinski spoke on a panel at SXSW about how the beer brand is leveraging beacon technology in its marketing efforts.

The Drum caught up with Hilinski afterwards to talk about what else Heineken is up to and what she hopes to take away from this year’s festival.

Check out the video above to hear about how Heineken is using proximity-based marketing to increase sales and check out our Q&A with Hilinski below.

What has Heineken been doing in the virtual reality space and do you see that medium being beneficial for the brand?

 I think we’ve experimented from more of an event-based standpoint, as an interesting engagement like at a music or event-type atmosphere. The engagement [that we did with Blippar] was an augmented reality platform which allowed you to customize your bottle and you could share that with friends. I think it has to start with the shopper or the consumer. There’s a lot of fun technology out there but what we don’t what to do is land on a technology or an interesting engagement and then figure out how or why it is relevant to our consumers. We want to start by looking at the fundamentals of what we are trying to communicate as a brand, understanding out audience, and then finding the right platforms that [our consumers] are hopefully already engaged with or that are going to target them in a really meaningful way.

What else is Heineken doing in the digital space that you think is exciting?

I’m really proud of what we’ve done launching the new Major League Soccer season and how we’re really not just activating a new campaign or a new program in retail but we’re really trying to be just as much of a fan of the sport as our consumers are. On the site you can get real time updates as to when the next match is, recaps of what happened in the last matches, rankings…you know, really salient information that fans want to know and it’s collected all in one place. And of course you can learn about the brand, of course you can be directed to find where to purchase or find an offer, but you’re also really getting valuable information. It’s packaging and serving up content on a platform that we own and control in a way that is actually providing real value to these fans beyond just being a sponsor of a particular sport. What’s great too in a controlled environment is we can actually start to understand behaviorally what people are doing and where they are clicking and we can prioritize and serve up content the next time they visit the site that is more meaningful for them. It is adaptive, and we want to make sure we’re providing a customized experience for people.

As a marketer, what do you hope to take away from SXSW this year?

For me it’s interesting, especially in other categories, to see how people are pushing the boundaries. We talk a lot at Heineken USA about test & learn and experimenting. For me, it’s just getting exposed to what are some interesting, cool ways that people are pushing digital advertising and the way that we can harness that in a very challenging category. The beer category is very saturated, it has a lot of legal and regulatory challenges that other categories don’t have to deal with, so I think we’re limited sometimes in the ways that we can go to market with our communications and platforms but it’s still good to hear in an environment like SXSW where more people are pushing it and maybe we can take a piece from that and adapt it to the constraints of our category in a way that would be meaningful to our consumers. It’s fun to hear and learn and set up meetings hopefully coming out of it and seeing how the different technologies could potentially be harnessed for Heineken.

Featured by The Drum