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SB Voices: ‘I want what I want when I want it’

Consumers are increasingly seeking instant gratification with their purchases – and an Instagram-worthy experience to boot, says Melita Kiely.

Bombay Sapphire’s The Grand Journey awakened all the senses with its botanical demonstrations

Remember your parents telling you: “‘I want’ doesn’t get,” when you were younger? Well, it turns out that for all their well-mannered intentions, such a saying has seemingly lost its place in today’s adult society.

“I want what I want when I want it,” is the revamped 21st-century mantra, according to the William Grant & Sons Market Report 2017. Fuelled by on-demand services, next day delivery offerings – heck, even ‘within the hour’ delivery promises – and the filtered world of social media, today’s consumers have next-to-no patience for complacency, compromise or waiting for what they want.

And what do they want? Well, put simply: experiences. While there is the ‘I want it now’ mentality, it seems today’s consumers are far from materialistic. What they crave more than possessions are experiences, the chance to create memories, to fill their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds with events and occasions. Plus, with so much uncertainty in the world – controversial US President Donald Trump and uncertain Brexit negotiations to give two prime examples – patrons are seeking escapism, interaction and to feel part of something that makes them feel good.

“The consumer need for instant gratification is a great opportunity for the drinks and hospitality industry, and we expect to see more brands embrace the trend when looking to develop their consumer brand experiences over the coming months,” the WGS report states.

An example of this embrace is Bombay Sapphire’s multi-sensory dining experience ‘The Grand Journey’, which I was fortunate enough to be invited to on Monday evening. Held aboard the Laverstoke Express train, which collected passengers from London’s 1 Lombard Street (though how Bombay Sapphire managed to fit a full-sized train carriage into the venue, nobody seems to know), the evening took guests on a ‘round-the-world trip’ from Java to Ghana, through Tuscany – even to the moon – ending at Laverstoke Mill, home of the gin brand. Technicolour slides flew past our windows as we sped through each destination, all while an attentive train guard divulged details behind each of the 10 botanicals used to create Bombay Sapphire gin.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes a team including Michelin star chef Tom Sellers was busy scurrying to prepare a selection of small dishes and delectable cocktails, offering something tangible between the botanicals and the guests. Sights, sounds, smells, textures, taste – all the senses were awakened during the event. Phones were out to record the night’s unfoldings, there was laughter, conversation, anticipation, excitement, but perhaps more importantly, a union being formed. A union between brand and consumers; between old friends, and new acquaintances made on the night; between the here and now, and virtual reality.

That message will be passed on through groups of friends, social media shares and likes – the memory lives on, immortalised in social feeds. And Bombay Sapphire will be remembered by imbibers that night for providing an experience, and as a gin that is more than the tonic it is mixed with.

In an era when social currency is just as highly valued as cold hard cash, I, for one, want to see even more experiential offerings from the spirits industry.

The Laverstoke Express ready to depart on ‘The Grand Journey’ from within 1 Lombard Street

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