Whiskey and yoga. Playboy and Asian fashion. Cocktails and cans. These combos might seem atypical... unless you're Robyn Greene, Marketing and Innovation SVP at The Cooper Spirits Company.
Beyond having a career that encompasses working in public relations and debuting limited-edition spirits, the mom of two is responsible for the 2016 launch of the Slow & Low “Rock and Rye” canned cocktail, a trailblazing product in the category of mixed drinks sold in a cylindrical aluminum container. Each 100ml can contains aged straight rye whiskey, 100% raw honey, air-dried navel oranges, a dose of rock candy and Angostura bitters. It's the solution to batching cocktails or spending time mixing drinks individually. In an industry where spirit trends are constantly changing, products are always evolving, and new items are regularly coming to market, there's an enormous amount of competition to break through and reach consumers in a valuable way.
As for bringing a new booze concept to the masses, Greene shares her best advice. "In order to stay true to your brand, make sure it is real and approachable from the consumer’s point of view," she says. Read on for the yoga-loving whiskey-marketing momma's seven tips for success.
- Never settle on “no” as the final answer. "If there is a project or idea that you believe in, follow your gut and continue to pursue it, despite how impossible people may think it is to achieve. At Cooper Spirits, people thought we were crazy for launching a canned spirit—but we knew the market craved a more accessible and convenient way to drink whiskey, which allowed us to create one of our most successful products, the 'Rock and Rye' canned cocktail."
- Keep your eyes on global trends. "I always ask myself, 'How will this new product perform in my market and markets around the world?' While [working in global PR] at Playboy, I learned that in Asia the Playboy bunny was considered to be a fashion icon rather than a sex symbol. It helped me realize how different marketing trends and strategies work in different markets. It’s important to keep an acute eye on marketing trends to take lessons away from them to put into practice later. A great example of this is when we saw high-ball canned cocktails launching in Japan and Australia. Knowing this success, Cooper Spirits took these key learnings from the launch and applied this to our own company to create our own Slow & Low 'Rock and Rye' canned cocktail that catered to a growing market in need of convenient whiskey spirited cocktails."
- Think outside of your industry and conceptualize how the market is adapting to consumer needs. "Understanding this will be pivotal to plan the future direction of your brand. We recognized the desire for convenience without losing quality."
- Invest in what you love and what you believe in. "Rob Cooper, the founder of Cooper Spirits, had a passion for the craftsmanship in making whiskey—so much so, he invested heavily into it to create a company that valued the quality and integrity of craft spirit making. Rob’s vision and passion for growing a rye whiskey portfolio after St. Germain, was one of my driving forces within the company. I am honored to have known him and to share the same passion for craft whiskey making."
- Juggle a passionate career and family. "[It] is another important part of my key to success as a marketing professional within the spirits world. I love being able to work with others at Cooper Spirits, because they share the same passion for craftsmanship and quality, while also supporting my role as a mom. I love being able to be accessible for my kids while also working for a company that truly supports me."
- Take risks within the marketing industry. "I once quit a job that was comfortable for me, where I had a great reputation working with Fortune 500 companies with growing consumer brands. I left to try something new, at a time when it made sense to take a risk. Our ability to create an innovative product has allowed us to tap customers who are not traditional whiskey drinkers and turn them into fans."
- Draw upon history within the marketing world. [It] is vital for success. Understanding the history behind classic cocktails and spirit making helps build the foundation for brands to create an eloquently modern approach to success. The origins of Rock and Rye's heritage dates back to the early 1800s, but we've given life to its history in today's age with our Slow & Low Rock and Rye straight rye whiskey. A concept a few hundred years old was made relevant to today."