Jeremy Kim, co-founder of Nectar, a spirits brand that entered the market in 2020, tried door-to-door marketing at about 200 different stores in Los Angeles — all of which rejected Nectar because they were skeptical about the brand’s Asian flavors catching on. So Kim turned to TikTok.
Nectar chose TikTok to entice Gen Z and millennial consumers to try its hard seltzer drinks.
“I just wanted to know if there was anyone out there who wanted to try our drinks or if we had completely missed on the idea and if it was time for us to give up,” Kim said of taking to TikTok to spread word-of-mouth for the brand.
To promote the brand on TikTok, Nectar’s goal was to create highly shareable TikTok videos that appealed to a big audience. For example, its “Sale or Fail” video, in which Nectar recorded shoppers in grocery stores trying out the seltzer brand, has been viewed 3.1 million times. The brand also often uses edgy concepts to get attention, like in its TikTok video that spoke to the demisexual conversation among Gen Zers in the dating landscape, which has 4.6 million views.
The hope was for the brand to go viral with content posted organically on the platform. Nectar does all of its creative work in-house, although it is unclear how many of their employees are involved in the process of creating the videos. “The first video went viral and got 300,000 views in three days and suddenly, we had hundreds of people across the U.S., blowing up my phone and asking for the drink,” said Kim.
After that, the brand spent the year traveling around to major cities across the U.S. doing “product drops” while letting their followers know the specific locations of the drops through TikTok. Kim said Nectar sold 300 boxes of seltzer in 15 minutes, and lines stretched almost three blocks in some instances. When asked about ad spend, Kim said the company spent all of its money to make the first boxes of Nectar and had nothing left for marketing. “We quite literally had no money left in the bank to pay for any kind of marketing or spend on any kind of paid advertising,” said Kim.
Kim said within 19 months of putting Nectar’s first box on a shelf in December 2020, the brand had built a TikTok community that grew to over 740,000 followers. Nectar’s community includes a list of people who texted the brand asking it to come to their area or to receive its latest announcements, as well as fans of its Under the Influence podcast.
Nectar’s general strategy is creating meaningful content that will resonate with its audience, because the brand is focused on building real community, not creating “flashy moments” through celebrity partnerships or heavy, paid-ad campaigns, according to Kim. “The more we post on the Nectar Hard Seltzer and Under the Influence [social] accounts, the more engagement we see, with average engagement per month peaking this past month at over 200,000 per post,” said Kim.
“Digging into the content experience and leaning into the power of raw video can be done if you have the right people behind the iPhone who are able to navigate the trends, understand Gen Z’s dry humor, fluent in algospeak and know just the right native platform editing features to use,” Elaine Lee, director of engagement at the content marketing agency, agency Manifest, said of Nectar’s content strategy.
“They have decided to use a content strategy to drive awareness and it is obviously cheaper than spending millions of dollars on advertising but it also requires the courage to create edgier content, which they have,” said Ulli Appelbaum, founder and chief strategy officer of brand strategy, research and innovation boutique First The Trousers Then The Shoes.
Nectar aims to build a community that stands for doing things differently, and wants to become a multi-channel media company. With its product and podcast, Nectar continues to connect with audiences authentically to hopefully attract true fans. The brand will also be announcing a crowdfunding campaign soon.
“When Nectar goes the distance, we want our community to win with us,” said Kim. “We believe that ownership is the future and investing in companies you believe in shouldn’t be reserved to the rich or well-connected.”
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