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Affiliated Marketing: The Fine Line Between PR and Marketing

How Professionals in the Cocktail Kit and Liquor Industry are Using it for Brand Exposure

By: Demi Johnson

Affiliated marketing has started to become a pretty common business-to-consumer practice for PR and marketing professionals. However, the cocktail kit industry uses this affiliated marketing practice and creates a mutually beneficial business-to-business program. B2B affiliate programs are different from B2C programs because the focus is more on brand awareness and word-of-mouth marketing rather than sales. Marketing and Public Relations efforts in the liquor industry can be challenging because of how many regulations there are. This is why many companies within the cocktail kit industry do not include alcohol in their kits. While some may view this as a threat, since the consumer has to purchase alcohol separately, it creates an excellent opportunity for the cocktail kit businesses and suppliers in the liquor industry. Affiliated marketing in the cocktail kit business takes the essence of influencer marketing and puts it into a B2B program.

Box on the Rocks

Box on the Rocks is a company new to the cocktail kit industry that offers an outstanding B2B Affiliate Program. Like mentioned previously, this is a mutually beneficial relationship. For each cocktail kit, the company suggests a specific liquor brand to use for the recipe. By suggesting a spirit pairing with the cocktail kit, the consumer may be more likely to purchase a product they wouldn’t have otherwise. For smaller companies, this may be a good way to grow their business and increase brand exposure. The cocktail kit business benefits because in exchange for this “free promo,” they help finance a part of the production cost for the kit, whether that is buying the garnishes for the kits or providing mixers such as ginger beer or cranberry juice. In addition to being featured on the BOTR website and social media accounts, the supplier’s product is also featured in the cocktail kit tutorial video and on the recipe card. B2B affiliate programs also can increase brand exposure for the cocktail kit company. Sometimes suppliers become super fans of the company and want to promote the kits on their social media platforms. For example, on Bosscal Mezcal’s Instagram, you can see that they reposted some of the pictures and videos that BOTR created for its Paloma kit featuring Bosscal. So, in this case, both parties are getting more brand exposure to new audiences. This creates a partnership where both brands use affiliated marketing to influence how consumers engage with and feel about these brands.

Others in the Cocktail Kit Industry

Shaker and Spoon is a well-known company in this industry. However, its B2B Affiliate Program does not appear to get the supplier nearly as much. Like Box on the Rocks, Shaker and Spoon features the supplier’s product in the kit’s promotional photography and mentions their “Suggested Spirit” on its website and social media. However, this company does not mention the supplier’s product in the cocktail kit tutorial videos. Another downside to this company’s program from the supplier perspective is that they suggest multiple different brands, whereas,

Box on the Rocks only mentions one brand per spirit. From the supplier perspective, this is a major downside. In this case, your brand becomes only one of three options being promoted. Whereas with Box on the Rocks, only one supplier is highlighted. The liquor industry can be very competitive, so being able to have your product featured exclusively as the single suggested spirit is a much better deal than being one of many.

The Role of Influencers

With the massive growth of influencers in recent years, influencers are starting to play a significant role in marketing and communication efforts. B2C Affiliate Marketing takes the influencer role and takes it one step further. It makes the influencer an advocate for the company by incentivizing them. With most affiliate programs, the affiliate will earn some commission off of the sales they get for the company. The liquor industry has many affiliate programs for influencers to look into. Drizly’s Affiliate Program is a great example. Drizly affiliates are provided with their own unique link to give their followers, and they make a 3% commission off of all sales made through that link. This benefits the company because affiliate marketing is low-cost and helps increase brand awareness while driving in sales. In addition, consumers are more likely to trust messages that come through a third party, so the influencer, in this case, than directly from the company itself. Cellars Wine Club’s Affiliate Program is another successful program that offers its affiliates a 10% commission. Cocktail Kit Businesses are also starting to pave their way through the B2C side of affiliate marketing. Box on the Rocks is in the early stages of developing a B2C Affiliate program, where the affiliates will receive 15% commission off of all sales made through their unique affiliate link.

So whether a company is using B2B or B2C affiliated marketing, these types of programs are highly beneficial for establishing credibility with the desired audience. Word-of-mouth has the power to make or break your company, and affiliated marketing is a Marcomm (Marketing Communications) strategy disguised as organic word-of-mouth. It is human nature to trust messages that come from an actual person rather than an organization. It makes the message feel more personal and meaningful. Even though affiliated marketing is a form of paid media, what makes it unique to the marketing communications practice is its ability to also gain the company earned media. That is what makes this Marcomm practice a real fine line between marketing and PR.


About the Author: Demi Johnson is a PR and marketing professional based in Fort Worth, Texas. Demi studied at the University of North Texas, getting her B.A. in Journalism, concentrating on public relations through the Mayborn School of Journalism. Demi is passionate about travel, the food and beverage industry, animals and of course, PR.


This material was written for and provided by AGENZ PR, a student-led PR firm specializing in matters of diversity, inclusion, and the Gen Z perspective. AGENZ teams are comprised of PR students from the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism, all of whom are dedicated to providing clients with insightful and digitally innovative work products to enhance business practices. Students learn and excel by getting hands-on, professional experience in the public relations industry.