Looking for a little company when your drinking? Try a chabot. Image credit: Kris Smith

It seems chatbots are popping up everywhere in the food and beverage industry, and now they’re finding their way to the liquor cabinet.

Chatbots are applications that combine Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to simulate human conversation.  They are an innovative way for marketers to reach out to target audiences and to support purchases.

As Allen wrote recently, chatbots are gaining increasing popularity as a way for grocery stores and restaurants to interact with target audiences.  Like food retailers, beverage brands, in particular alcohol brands, are quickly implementing chatbots as part of their marketing strategy.

Here is a look at what some top alcohol brands are doing with chatbots:

United Spirits Limited (USL), a Diageo Group Company, introduced Simi-Your Personal Bartender, a Facebook Messenger chatbot that provides bartending solutions.  Simi has a cocktail recipe catalogue of over 2000 recipes that feature Diageo’s brands, like Johnnie Walker Whisky, Smirnoff Vodka, Tanqueray Gin, and Captain Morgan.  With use, the chatbot will gain intelligence and offer cocktail recipes based on alcohol and ingredient preference.

According to B. Sridhar, VP Digital at USL-Diageo “There is a shift in the way consumers are interacting with brands today and through this conversational interface we wanted to build a first of its kind bar-tending solution that is not just cutting edge, but can also help us offer our consumers personalization at scale.”  The chatbot will be integrated across all Diageo brand pages on Facebook and the company’s lifestyle website, liveinstyle.com.

Johnnie Walker, one of the Diageo brands, is also rolling out, in addition to Simi, a digital education program that leverages Amazon Alexa skill, a messenger bot, and a Facebook Messenger chatbot.  The chatbot piece of their tripartite digital campaign is a guided whiskey tasting experience, aimed at giving whisky enthusiasts more knowledge. Johnnie Walker’s chatbot also offers cocktail recipes and enables users to execute on the recommendations provided, ordering alcohol and mixer supplies through Drizly or Cocktail Courier.

Free drink?

Vodka maker Absolut has launched its own chatbot, with the incentive of giving users a free drink.  Rather than providing DIY mixology advice, the Absolut chatbot leads users to the professionals—to bars where they can purchase an Absolut beverage, and redeem a special code for their free drink.  The responsible bot also gives drinkers the chance to get a ride home from Lyft.

As an official sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, Heineken is using chatbots as a way to get football (soccer) fans to watch the games by offering rewards like transportation and food delivery to viewers.  The Heineken Facebook Messenger chatbot will be launched in April.

So, why chatbots?

For one, alcohol brands find using chatbots are a good way engage consumers with recipe tools, bar finders, and interactive games. They’re also a good way to connect with younger consumers. Chatbots are particularly popular among Millennials, with research showing 60% of those aged 18 to 34 having used a chatbot at some point, according to Retale.

So next time you hit the bottle, remember you don’t have to drink alone. You can find company in one of the many chatbots finding their way to the local liquor cabinet.

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