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Discovering Consumer Behaviors to Grow Existing Products | By Paul Miklautsch

Building a deep understanding of millennial behavior in the whiskey category



Our client needed to understand why a competitor brand was gaining traction with millennial whiskey drinkers. The Bold team was asked to better understand the whiskey drinker, how brands are introduced, and why brands were popular and purchased.


The Bold research team conducted 60 interviews in four markets throughout the United States. The interviews were conducted in-home, shop along, or on-premise to better understand the decision process for brands.

In Home

These interviews allowed us to have in-depth conversations but also allowed us to see their whiskey collection at home. To better understand how brands have played a role in their lives, we asked participants to engage in a card game that mapped out their whiskey journey. The cards, consisting of brand names could be moved around to reflect their responses to questions we asked to see how brands played a role in their journey

In Store

The interviews that included a visit to their favorite liquor store, allowed the research team to see their reactions to how brands were positioned on the shelves, how price played a role in their selection, and how store employees played a role in trying a new brand.




Throughout all the interviews, we heard hundreds of stories of their conversations with friends and family over a drink. Some were nostalgic and reminded them of their father’s favorite whiskey, others described a significant moment in their lives like a wedding or promotion, and others were a night out with their friends.

As we analyzed the information, the card game that had participants map their journey using the cards started to show trends in their behaviors. Certain brands were often seen earlier in their journey but then dropped off as new brands were introduced. There were brand trends across the journey which then began to better define four moments along the journey.



A presentation was delivered that visually showed the whiskey journey, how personas move through the journey, and recommendations to influence marketing activities.



Our qualitative research efforts allowed the client to:

• Defined four unique personas of whiskey drinkers

• Identified a distinct whiskey journey

• Mapped brands along the whiskey journey and to unique personas

• Discovered the strongest messaging was what millennials tell others, not advertising.

By Paul Miklautsch - November 25, 2019

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