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🎧 On today’s episode of the DTC pod, we sit down with Fiona Hepher, cofounder of Sansorium, Canada’s premium alcohol-free marketplace. 

Fiona discusses the growth of the non-alcoholic beverage industry and the challenges facing alcohol-free brands today. She explains how Sansorium was founded in response to a growing demand for non-alcoholic options and a lack of quality and variety in the market, the role of pop-ups in driving growth for the company, and the importance of brand design and positioning in the alcohol-free market.

‍The takeaways 👇

🍷 Branding is everything

Fiona emphasizes the importance of branding and packaging in the non-alcoholic beverage industry. Customers so often rely on the appearance of a product, especially the label, to make purchasing decisions. So, carefully considering the branding and packaging of your product as well as investing in good design can make a huge difference to become competitive in the market. For example, positioning a product as “alcohol-free” versus “non-alcoholic” can be a game changer for brands. 

“Half of your product is the branding [and] half of your product is the packaging and a lot of people don't nail that. They don't have their positioning right and, you know, language on a bottle is also so important… Sit with it. Test it with lots of different people and spend the money on a good designer. Don't go cheap… That's really what will pay off in the long run.”

🍾 Popping up

It’s hard to place a value on connecting with consumers in-person and Fiona discusses how Sansorium’s use of pop-ups and tastings have been a key marketing strategy for the brand. Focusing on the importance of in-person conversations and the sensory experience of the brand has been essential to converting customers. They hosted over 60 pop-ups in the past year and traveled to various locations to reach as many people as possible. 

“We wanted to return the sensuality back into not drinking alcohol. For a long time, the word ‘sober’ and words associated with sobriety have been ‘dry,’ ‘mock,’ or ‘fake’ – all negative words. Even ‘non,’ right, ‘non-alcoholic’... That's like a double negative at the same time so I want people to realize that there is a true sense quality in not consuming alcohol [and] that there is more feeling to be had. It's like Technicolor vision because you're not dulling any of the senses.”


💰 What Fiona would do with an extra $50K:

Fiona discusses two potential investment opportunities for Sansorium. 

“My first idea, because this is a real challenge for us, is that I could invest in product. There are some really great brands that I want to bring out from the US… I have the demand, I have the consumer, they're waiting for these products [and] I just don't have the cash flow to be able to invest in the quantities that I need to bring in. My more creative idea is I would love to see Sansorium present in really cool ways and [in] different retailers across the country.”

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