NYRIW Preview: How A Global Vodka Brand Goes DTC With Hyper-Local Distilleries
To be explored in a site visit to its micro-distillery Our/New York during New York Retail Innovation Week, Pernod Ricard is fostering direct connections with local consumers by creating distilleries unique to their locations, sourcing local ingredients and embodying the spirit of the city to compete in a market burgeoning with DTC brands
How does an internationally renowned name like Pernod Ricard Vodka appeal to shifting consumer behaviors concerning alcohol consumption, particularly amidst the rise of DTC and more specialized brands? By marshaling the strength of its global recognition to create hyper-local micro-distilleries, each as unique as the city they're located in, in a project called Our/Vodka.
Our/New York is Pernod Ricard’s small-batch, locally run vodka distillery in downtown Manhattan, dedicated to the production of vodka containing locally sourced ingredients, thereby lending a local taste to each spirit. It is the 7th concept experience opened by Pernod Ricard with others in Berlin, Detroit, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles and soon in Miami, with each city using the same global recipe but adding ingredients sourced as locally as possible to maintain hyper-local flavors.
Ahead of Our/New York's site visit as part of New York Retail Innovation Week, the location's partner Dave Ortiz explains how the brand caters to local tastes as well as embodies the spirit of New York in its store experience and production to enable an authentic brand rooted in its community and foster direct connection with its customers, backed by the experience and resources of a global brand.
Could you describe your brand, and any industry or consumer trends that you’re responding to with your business?
We are very lucky to be able to combine access to a global knowledge center and expertise with building of an authentic local brand. We aim to combine the best of both worlds for our project.
We all feel local pride in things that are made ‘here,' a place we all belong to.
We make something we all can be proud of, and source our ingredients as locally as possible without compromising in quality. People relate to hands-on-hard work, and they love to know who is behind a project. Having our distillery located in the heart of Manhattan, we are easily accessible to New Yorkers and our guests can literally see all of us doing the hands on work day in day out.
What was the motivation behind starting Our/Vodka? Were there any consumer gaps or unmet needs you wanted to fill?
Global brands run broad messaging and hence often lack local relevance in their markets—and also miss out in direct connection to the customers. Local brands mostly are challenged in access to powerful knowledge centers and often also in access to funding.
Our/Vodka is described as a global brand with local roots—could you talk about any tension between these two characteristics, and how they have helped, or presented challenges to, your mission as a brand?
Our local partners create the local infrastructure, while our team creates the look and feel of the actual location, and enable the local partnerships and local brand relevance.
Our global team provides guidance in industry knowledge and trends, enables the local teams to build first-grade distilleries with some of the best experts in the field and coordinates learning exchange between the different cities.
Your brand ethos is all about supporting local roots. How do you maintain your commitment to sourcing quality, local ingredients? What types of partnerships, or infrastructure does this require?
It’s all about quality and consistency. We source the highest quality ingredients as locally as possible and we are constantly looking for sourcing closer and closer as time goes on. It's not easy, but our international team has the technical know how and handles or guides us through this process. That gives me more time to do what I have to do, which is sell and market a super premium product.
As each location is unique, can you share anything you’ve learned so far from the process of building a micro-distillery? What surprised you most?
We've had to accommodate the regulations of the spirits industry in NYC and NYS plus having to take exams in the handling of hazardous materials.
We also learned how little people know about distilling and how spirits are made—which is great for us as we are working on a whole workshop program. We realized how many people love vodka but in the days of the sexy brown spirit trend a lot of consumers and industry people alike are shy to admit it…
What do you hope to focus on and share at your RIW event this January?
We will share OUR/unique story and allow our guest to experience what we are all about. Many people or brands try to create experiential marketing experiences—we are the real thing.
And we are very happy to share OUR/New York with PSFK and your community.
What’s in store for the future of Our/Vodka and Our/New York, anything you can share?
We are working on some variations in size, and maybe expanding our product line Into some other spirits—but we are not ready to share this yet.
As I come from the “Streetwear” world, we are going to offer a small selection of merchandise—nothing crazy, but our name
“OUR/New York” carries a lot of strength. Our/New York doesn’t always have to be about vodka we are very much about “Our/NewYork” For NewYork made by NewYorkers.
To learn more about Our/New York, come take a tour of its site on Tuesday, January 15 during New York Retail Innovation Week, and hear from brand ambassadors as well as sample its product. Tickets available now.