Permission to play: experiential with Smith and Sinclair
20 Dec 2019
During a time of political unrest, Smith and Sinclair argue that we need fun more than ever. Specialising in alcoholic gummies made with cocktail flavours, the brand just launched in the US with a pop-up that doubled their sales goals thanks to their dedication to showing customers a good time. From date nights to drag acts, we talk to the founder about how others should approach experiential:
Can you tell us your story from the beginning?
It all began as a bi-product for a board game dating night in East London. The events encouraged a feeling of play and nostalgia but we noticed how a drink would create a social barrier. We wanted to mix things up and offer a ‘social lubricant’ (aka alcohol) in a form which mirrored the nights themselves. So we created the ‘Alcoholic Pick ’n’ Mix’ concept where we gave people a candy bag on arrival and they could explore the space with jars of ‘Gin & Tonic’ and ‘Whisky Sours’ in the form of a gummy. The concept of an Alcoholic Gummy was far more successful than the nights themselves so we took the idea off on its own with a market stall and events. It snowballed from there.
What are you doing differently to others in the industry?
We have a mission to ‘Make Adult More Fun,’ which carries through every aspect of our business, from our patent-pending alcoholic gummies (containing 5% ABV) to retail: molecular gastronomy experiences by day and drag acts with twisted cocktails by night. We want to disrupt the retail environment to making shopping more social and bring that level of fun into the home by making innovative, ‘occasion-based,’ edible creations.
Why more than ever do we need to ‘Make Adult More Fun’?
From politics to the cost of living to Brexit, it is a very difficult time right now. The pressures are not only felt on an individual basis but shared on a global level through our addiction to social media. We think it’s important to take a step back, make room for shameless fun to play, connect and experiment. We want to be a tool to instigate those moments.
Why is playful experiential retail important to your brand? Any tips for those looking to do the same?
Our products are so unique that it takes a special setting to bring them to life. We want to show our customers a good time – having points of engagement, live demonstrations and samples should always be a part of retail. These are your opportunities to educate your consumer about what you do in the truest form. Authenticity is key and if you’re confident about what you want the consumer to experience, making the space will be a lot easier.
You once said about your brand: “It's really sleek and premium, but people have permission to play.” How do you strike this balance?
It’s ensuring the quality of the product stands up to the articulation of what we do. We flex our fun in spaces, packaging, social media and events. At the same time, we ensure that when we execute the product and position the brand to third party retailers that we communicate trust, professionalism and creativity.
What were the biggest successes of your US store? And the biggest challenges?
It’s been consistently busy. We’ve almost doubled our revenue expectation, had a fantastic amount of press and introduced who we are to a US audience in the best way possible - by bringing the brand to life through an amazing physical space. The biggest challenge was the timeline. We put the concept and production together in less than six weeks, which was tight.
You’ve used Appear Here a few times. Why do you keep coming back? What do you like about the service?
We love the flexibility and agility that Appear Here offers. With a variety of spaces and short lease times, it’s the perfect business for us when it comes to budget and speed.
What are your key goals for your US store? What do you hope to get out of it?
We wanted to land in NY with a bang, spread the word and engage retailers. We can confidently say that’s been achieved.
Where’s next? What’s your vision for the future of the brand?
To be a successful global brand with a range of innovative products that make their way into everyone’s home at some point, either at a party, as a gift or during a moment of celebration.
What do you think it takes to make an idea happen?
Persistence, graft, resilience, and relentless optimism.
Words by @annabelherrick