If there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s that it’s making us appreciate the little things — and there’s no better way to show your appreciation than with a toast. The pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives, including how we unwind with a drink. Although bars have reopened in many states, it may be a long time before attendance rebounds fully. In fact, two-thirds of participants in a recent Nielsen survey said they were still staying away from bars and restaurants at the moment.
That doesn’t mean that people aren’t drinking, though. Alcohol sales skyrocketed in mid-March when local governments began rolling out stay-at-home orders. Delivery apps and liquor stores are seeing huge increases as people shift drinking habits to at-home consumption. Instead of heading to the bar for a cocktail after work, people are setting up Zoom happy hours or having “garage beers” at home.
Those behavioral shifts are shaping how people engage with beverages — and what they’re looking for in new brands. Specifically, here are a few trends that have surfaced in the wake of COVID-19 and what to bear in mind as you go through the process of naming a new beverage.
Create Beverage Names That Speak to the “New Normal”
Far from being a short-term shift, COVID-19 may have a lasting impact on advertising, messaging, and branding. So if you’re planning to release a new beverage line or brand soon, you’ll need to understand the following current consumer mindsets and drivers.
- We’re seeing a decrease in “conspicuous consumption.” Consumers who are sheltering at home are less motivated to make status-driven purchases meant to be flaunted in public. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room in the market for top-shelf beverages; however, names that appeal to the consumers’ desire to be an “influencer” are less likely to find an audience now.
- Nostalgia and comfort are huge drivers. Many people are yearning for a small taste of life as it used to be and are likely drinking as a way to relieve some of the stress of the pandemic. They may be enjoying beers on their front lawn with neighbors while social distancing or having a glass of wine with a small group of friends in the backyard. Names that recall memories of good times are likely to resonate with consumers — as long as they still feel authentic.
- Trust and value are likely to dominate. The pandemic is shaping what consumers are looking for in the products they buy. Namely, they’re opting for products that are reliable and functional, and that offer the most bang for their buck. Bulk-buying and economic uncertainty have benefitted well-known value brands like Coors and Miller Light. That may pose a challenge for new products entering the market, meaning you’ll need to be even savvier with your naming strategy and branding. It’s worth investigating company and product names that implicitly evoke the values of economy, trustworthiness, and caring.
- Brands that co-opt the crisis will face backlash. Comfort and functionality may be driving consumer purchasing right now, but companies that are too eager to profit from the crisis may face much harsher criticism. Avoid heavy-handed messaging and names that are too obvious, sentimental, or opportunistic.
- Companies should be careful to avoid tone-deaf names. Challenging times call for sensitivity. Names that recall associations with parties, concerts, and other social-distancing no-nos will likely face criticism. For instance, Corona Hard Seltzer learned this lesson the hard way. Ironically, the name “Corona” wasn’t the problem here. It was an ill-timed product-launch campaign that used beach-themed messaging at a time when headlines were calling out beach-going spring breakers for flaunting health guidelines. To avoid making a similar mistake, be sure to steer clear of these associations.
Trust the Naming Experts
While it’s important to pay attention to consumer trends in the product naming process, you also need to choose something that won’t be obsolete in a year or two. Our experts at NameStormers have spent decades perfecting our naming strategy. We can help you select name options that both capture the current zeitgeist and have long-term appeal — attention-grabbing names like past client Boston Beer Company’s Angry Orchard or Wild Leaf Tea.