Branding is a big area of interest for any business. Whether from the vantage point of a consumer or marketer, the only truly defendable brand position is an authentic one.
Peligroso is not only an award-winning 100 percent blue weber agave tequila from the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, but a brand that tells a genuine, honest story that resonates with people. We recently spoke with Greg Long and Bruce Beach of Peligroso® about how they created a unique competitive advantage that resonates, delights and builds lasting value.
Before you decided to enter the distilled spirits industry, you both spent your extensive careers in other industries. How do you see the similarities and differences in marketing for tequila versus the world in which you lived before?
Bruce: Before I founded Peligroso® I was involved in founding Electric, a global premium sport and lifestyle accessory brand. We made all kinds of equipment you'd need on an adventure: sunglasses, snow goggles, watches, backpacks, etc. In this regard, I've always been involved with the hunt for both quality and adventure. The combination is what creates a successful brand. With Peligroso®, it's just about what happens after that adventure and where the day has taken you. Tequila has a wider audience than something like surfing or snowboarding equipment, but Peligroso® lets us makes that connection between celebration and sport.
Greg: I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to have a great career in the surfing world, and this is something I'm still heavily involved in today. I've never worried about marketing myself as an athlete or as a brand. My life's motto has simply been: never stop learning and challenging myself, no matter what I do, both on land and in the water. My goal is to make every day in life an exciting adventure, and I think that's a huge part of the reason why my involvement with Peligroso® has been so successful. I'm not trying to sell an angle or force us into a niche. Peligroso® Tequila embodies the same spirit-seeking excitement and adventure that I do. It is genuinely who we are and what we're about, so that authenticity is going to shine through.
Have any other companies (and their products or ideals) shaped what you wanted Peligroso® to be? Please explain.
Bruce: There isn't any particular company or product that we've based Peligroso® on, but our focus on quality and authenticity shaped Peligroso®. We definitely admire those that are true to their roots and aren't afraid to be who they are. It doesn't matter if you're about surfing, technology, art, or anything else. If you stick to your roots and have an open approach to things, we'd consider you to be a company Peligroso® can identify with.
Any places in the U.S. where it's been particularly successful or particularly challenging?
Bruce: We have seen the greatest success right in our backyard: California. Our fans have seen the brand grow from a tiny brand in San Clemente to a nationally-distributed brand. We have also seen early success in Colorado, our snow sport hub in the U.S. Other pockets of success include New York, Chicago, Florida, Georgia, and Texas - all areas where consumers are more discerning about high quality tequila and celebrating high energy occasions with friends.
Looking at sort of the communications mix that Peligroso® has, sports sponsorship seems to be a key element of your communications mix, particularly surfing. Why is sports sponsorship seen as an important, relevant element of your communications mix?
Greg: It's who we are. It's as much a part of the brand as the agave we use. By now, I think we've established that Peligroso® is all about adventure and thrill. For a lot of people, surfing and other action sports are their main source of adventure. They allow you to let go of the stress and negative things in your life and just focus on the positivity and beauty around you - like what you see in the water. You'll continue to see us engage as a sponsor and overall supporter of surfing and action sport activations.
Savvy companies have made a big push to integrate social media into their overall marketing efforts over the past few years. Can you comment on your current strategy and where you plan on taking it in the future?
Bruce: Peligroso® is a brand with real roots and a genuine story, so social media is a huge part of telling that story to our fans. Firstly, social media is a space where we can encourage and inspire our fans to seek their own adventures. Images of us on the water, mountain, trails or wherever it is we find our adventure, are an invitation for them to share theirs with us. Secondly, we use social media to show our fans new, unique and responsible ways to enjoy Peligroso® such as in our signature Surfer's Martini or Peli Bomb, using innovative videos and recipes. Peligroso® is all about sharing stories of your adventures with friends, so we want them to be able to responsibly enjoy a Peligroso® cocktail or raise a shot when doing so.
Would you agree with that notion that "marketing is everything and everything is marketing" and if so how have you extended the boundaries of your job beyond the normal purview of founders?
Bruce: The way you market a brand is crucial, but we focus on positioning Peligroso® always in the most authentic way and we've found that is so important, especially in a space as crowded as tequila. Today, I'm still very much involved in ensuring the brand stays true to the vision we had when it all started. The difference here is that I really am the consumer we had in mind when we launched Peligroso®. I grew up surfing and seeking adventure, and I still do. I love a good tequila that I can slowly sip and enjoy, but I love it even more when I can do so with friends and see us all responsibly enjoying the same thing together.
How is your Peligroso® making the brand experience, as well as product offerings, more personal and customizable for consumers? Can you name a few key examples you're particularly excited about?
Bruce: We understand that everyone is different and a good time or an adventure doesn't mean the same thing to everyone either. Through our Tequilagating platforms, we're reaching people that might not find themselves on the beach or mountain. The point is Peligroso® is for everybody seeking to celebrate a great adventure. Our tequila portfolio is also built to accommodate different tastes. Whether you're into Peligroso® Silver on the rocks, an aged tequila like Peligroso® Reposado or Anejo or some sweet heat in a shot of Peligroso® Cinnamon, there's definitely a Peligroso® Tequila to enjoy.
While many brands still base their strategies on where they've been, the world we see emerging is unlike anything we've known before: hyperefficient, hyperconnected, on 24/7, highly integrated, and increasingly user defined. How is your brand adapting to changing needs, pressures, and preferences in your area of business?
Greg: No matter how the spirits and tequila world changes, we'll always know exactly where we came from. The pursuit of adventure and the constant thirst for thrill that, in part, led to the creation of Peligroso® will always be at the heart of the brand. At the same time, we recognize that our consumers' tastes are constantly evolving. We're very happy with our current tequila portfolio and positioning but are always gathering feedback and staying as connected to the market as possible.
How would you describe Peligroso® in 5 words?
Bruce: An adventure with good friends.
Greg: Enjoying life to the fullest.
Sean Gardner is an international keynote speaker and digital strategist. Connect with him on Instagram.
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