Marketing, Data & Liquor 100 Years After Prohibition

Posted inData, Marketing

Whiskey-Soaked Numbers: How Data Transforms Alcohol Sales

One hundred years ago today, the 18th Amendment, known as the Volstead Act, was enacted to place a federal ban on the production and sale of “intoxicating liquors”. Spurred by conservative religious groups, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the Anti-Saloon League, and social progressives across all political parties, this ban sought to put an end to alcohol-induced depravity. 

Shockingly, it didn’t work. 

The problem with the prohibition of alcohol is that it didn’t stop people from wanting to drink and even doctors rallied for a repeal, stating that alcohol was necessary for medicinal purposes. Organized crime had flourished with the business of bootlegging booze and notorious figures like Al Capone and Tom Dennison rose to prominence – and riches – in getting alcohol to the public. 

Speakeasies sprang up to offer clandestine enjoyment of alcoholic beverages and with it brought a new segment into the alcohol market: women. Prior to Prohibition, the only women who drank in public were prostitutes. Because women were typically at home taking care of children, they rarely (if at all) imbibed at home. To boost profits, speakeasies welcomed lady drinkers which broke the social stigma of females tying one on. 

After thirteen years full of mob violence, arrests, toxic liquor substitutes, and millions of untaxed alcohol dollars, Prohibition came to a much-needed end. You’d think that this end would encourage distributors to go wild with advertising to make up for lost years of legal business, but that was not the case. In 1936, liquor companies initiated a self-imposed ban on radio advertising and another for television in 1948 because they thought that it would lead to the return of Prohibition. This ban would last until 1996.

Fast forward to the present day where collectively the alcohol industry spends between $1 and $2 billion each year on advertising. On top of TV and radio advertising, the flourishing digital marketing industry has yielded ample returns for their clients in getting their brand message out on various digital platforms. What sets one digital marketing agency apart from another is a valuable resource stronger than Kentucky moonshine: data.

Using data effectively has allowed alcohol retailers to target and deploy relevant marketing campaigns based on audience segments and analyze consumer behavior. Finding patterns in consumer habits and preferences allow distributors to cater to their existing customers and cultivate new ones.

PIN’s clients in the alcohol industry have shown an exponential rise in clientele and gross profits thanks to deploying digital advertising, content marketing initiatives, SMS campaigns, social media, and much more. PIN can perform all the necessary tasks required for your brand or store but delivers real results using collected, actionable data.

From having booze to not having booze, then not being able to advertise booze to a booze-fueled marketing boom, you could say alcohol has come a long way in 100 years.


PIN Business Network has worked with alcohol brands and liquor stores to successfully increase sales and brand recognition. Contact us today to see how we can help you!