CleanCo is revolutionizing the spirit industry one clean gin & tonic at a time. Founded by tv star and entrepreneur, Spencer Matthews, the company has taken the low and no alcohol market to new levels, transforming the negative connotations that run through the category by creating a range of complex, beautifully produced liquids in stunning bottles, that rival their alcohol counterparts in every way.
With CleanCo, you can enjoy the flavor and feel of an alcoholic drink but with no hangover, lower calories and best of all, no ‘fear’ the next day. Their clean gin, known as Clean G, emerged in 2019 and has now been joined by clean rum, tequila, vodka, pink gin and a selection of delicious, canned cocktails.
CleanCo has had a mega year, filled with new product releases and a hugely successful ATL campaign, so how could we not take the chance to sit down with the brand to get the T (the Clean T). In this exclusive 1 on 1 interview, hear from ProQuo’s Content Writer, Ruby Arenson and CleanCo’s Head of Marketing, Dean Lavender.
ProQuo: Dean, thank you so much for meeting with us. We absolutely love the CleanCo brand. Could you please tell us a bit more about your proposition?
Dean: Absolutely! CleanCo was launched in 2019 to change the perception of low and no alcohol. In the category, we sit alongside full-strength spirits, introducing more occasions into the market. CleanCo are here for when people want to drink a spirit and mixer but don’t feel they have the ‘permission’ to do so, for whatever reason. Our offerings are lower in calories and don’t leave you feeling rough the next day, but they still give you the same feelings of ‘indulgence’ and ‘treatiness’ as alcohol.
Take our Clean G. It looks like a gin, smells like a gin, is made in a similar way, has the same flavor profile and is packaged exactly like a gin. So, the risk of trial for consumers is a lot lower. It involves the tiniest behavioral shift, as the drink closely mirrors the experiences they’ve already had with gin.
ProQuo: And have there been any hurdles you’ve had to overcome recently, perhaps due to changes in your category?
Dean: The category is definitely still pretty small. Only 15% of the UK have prompted awareness of no and low spirits. But it’s growing quickly! One of our main challenges is awareness. As the category is so small, we need to introduce new buyers to no and low. We’ve made some real in-roads with this already and are stocked in Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
Spencer, our founder, also has a large online audience, so that’s helped with PR and ad campaigns. We invested in ATL in January through TV and outdoor media and have already seen (through the ProQuo platform) significant uplifts as a result of this activity.
ProQuo: That’s great to hear! I’d love to find out how you’re using the platform day to day?
One of the key selling points of ProQuo was the opportunity for elevated trade interactions. As home consumption is the biggest opportunity for no and low, growth through retailers is a key channel for us, and ProQuo has been vital in these discussions. As a new business, it’s tempting to go after everything to grow as quickly as possible but with ProQuo we’re able to tap into the most important Drivers in our category, ensuring we are delivering against these at all times.
This in-depth knowledge of the category has helped us to educate retailers, as we’re still a relatively new category, so even buyers are looking for more clarity around the dynamics of the market. Misinformation is still rife within our category and ProQuo has been great at disproving these ideas by bringing more fact and data into our discussions.
ProQuo: And what would you say is the biggest advantage of the ProQuo data in retailer meetings?
Dean: A Beers Wines and Spirits buyer is managing hundreds of brands, across several different sectors, and won’t necessarily have time to do deep dives into low and no alcohol. That’s why our data is great as it positions us as a ‘category partner’ bringing key, necessary intel to retailers to help them grow their categories.
The fact that we can input live events into ProQuo and see the impact almost immediately is huge. It helps us to communicate our brand story clearly and visually, so retailers can easily see how we’ve grown alongside our marketing activities. We can see on ProQuo, we’re scoring really well with non-users, and that’s really attractive for any retailer to see.
Every retailer we’ve shown our ProQuo data to has been really impressed. Sainsbury’s has been incredibly receptive to our data and has given us 4 SKU’s in their stores. Considering they hold almost a 1/3 of the low and no market, this is huge. We’ve also just gone live with Morrisons and are displayed in over 478 stores nationally.
ProQuo: Wow, that’s brilliant! I’m so glad to hear that. I’m also dying to know how real-time analysis has shaped your brand strategy?
Dean: The real-time nature of ProQuo is so important. It always provides the latest data, rather than annual dips or quarterly reports, which we’ve been forced to rely on in the past. Given the backdrop of COVID-19, real-time has never been so needed. A lot of our Drivers and consumer needs have changed during this time and without ProQuo, giving us the latest temperature read, we wouldn’t know which areas to focus on.
What we’re looking at currently is taste and we’re doing this through our Performance Driver. With anything new, there’s scepticism. People do wonder if our clean gin tastes as good as the real thing. We’re confident about the quality of our products and we’ve now got 5,700 reviews on TrustPilot and 90% are 5 or 4 star. But when you can’t offer taste tests in real life, you have to rely on building this message into your communication strategies.
That’s why ProQuo’s CreativeLab was so helpful for us! Ahead of our campaign in January, we tested outdoor assets on CreativeLab to make sure it was delivering on the Performance Driver. We put options of ads into CreativeLab and received a clear winner. As a result of that, we used the winning ad in our latest burst of ATL and the result has been phenomenal.
Being able to track key brand Drivers pre, during and post-campaign has been invaluable, demonstrating the value and impact of media spend on brand measures and helping us with internal justification of the spend. It’s also allowed us to unlock further investment later in the year. And we're back on TV as we speak! The commercial impact of this move was clear to see with a 600% increase in retail sales value and an incremental 250k website visits over the course of the month.
ProQuo: Those are incredible results Dean, so impressive. Before we head off, I’d be interested to know how you managed your brand before ProQuo?
Dean: We used to do quarterly marketing funnels and dips with YouGov. It gave us a loose idea on a nationally representative level how many people were spontaneously aware of our category. But you couldn’t separate users vs non-users or track changes over time, and there was no Driver information, so we didn’t know where to focus our efforts. With ProQuo, we’ve got a huge advantage as we have an extra layer of detail, real-time intelligence and the ability to correlate marketing spend with impact.