Case Study: Haamonii Shochu & The Social Media Experience

Haamonii Smooth Shochu

Last night at the Social Media Club (#smcsfsv) monthly meeting, I took part in perhaps the most interesting discussion that I’ve had since I’ve arrived in San Francisco. The topic of the conversation was about the “Social Media Ecosystem” and it was led by Ravit Lichtenberg, Founder and Chief Strategist of Ustrategy LLC, and who is an expert in customer experience strategy and product marketing.

What made it so interesting is that we were led on a path to try and find a way to discover how we could make our message synch with that of the customer and the corporation. See, it wasn’t about pitching social media or web marketing to any small business, but more like the Fortune 500 company which typically finds itself at odds on how to approach social media. So as part of that discussion, Lichtenberg made the group disperse into subgroups to formulate a plan of attack using a product from one of three industries: technology, financial & retail. Then, we were to select a product and put together a strategy on usage of social media. In my group, however, we didn’t choose one of those three industries nor any products. Instead, we focused on another product and hence the reason for this blog post.

Haamonii ShochuAt that Social Media Club meeting, we were privvy to a free tasting of a special brand of shochu by Haamonii Smooth, a small business specializing in creating a new drinking experience for their customers. It was during this time that my group got really involved in talking with its founder James Key Lim about how we could help develop a strategy on using social media to help increase sales and brand awareness about his product – even if it was initially just for show & presentation in front of the group.

I really enjoyed that conversation and my group really got to ask some thought-provoking questions and discussions with Lim. Here’s just some of those thoughts that relate to the topic based on our conversations.

What are the objectives/goals?

  • Haamonii Smooth is looking to increase the sale (and possibly distribution) of its product.
  • The company is looking to raise awareness of the brand and to “share” the experience with others.

Who are the customers?

  • Wine connesiuers
  • People who want to try something new
  • Non-beer enthusiasts
  • Others?

So how do we complete this assignment and reach stated goals?

This began a whole new conversation on tactics we could use combining both the offline relationship with the online. Lim informed us that every month he has free tastings that he holds throughout the country with San Francisco being one of them. One thing to keep in mind when going through this exercise was to promote the fact that Lim wanted to share the experience with people. Within social media, when you hear the word “share”, that’s pretty synonymous with the industry. So social media was the perfect media to use.

So we had two things to work with: find a way to “share” and talk about the “experience”.

Some of the ideas that were proposed by the group I was in included having branded flip cameras given away at certain tastings so people could share their videos on the experience and making it more viral. Or, perhaps giving branded frames with photos of people drinking the shochu with a staged backscreen showing them sharing the experience. We also mentioned the idea that perhaps having photos taken at the tasting and at other locations where Haamonii is featured to show people enjoying the drink while portraying the meaning behind shochu.

Lim mentioned to the group two things that were part of his “elevator pitch” that got us to really think about how to express how deep shochu really was. As you may know, shochu is a Japanese drink and many probably don’t know exactly what is shochu, so the thought would be to go forward and use social media to incorporate awareness about what shochu is AND to look at how to use the Japanese culture and celebratory nature to emphasize that Haamonii is about harmony and not one that is to be drank alone. Instead, it’s to meet with your friends, family and/or co-workers and enjoy life. 

To this end, other methods of promotion included reaching out to bloggers and creating conversation using tools like Twitter, Technorati, Google Search, etc. and engaging them in perhaps samplings or reviews to let them experience it for themselves and spread the news via word of mouth. But moving past the bloggers and twitterers presented another idea from not the group I was working with but the rest of the folks in attendance at this meeting. Instead of looking at simply setting up a Facebook profile or page and reaching out to them, two ideas were introduced: allowing folks to send Haamonii shochu as a “gift” to their friends on Facebook, and also employing targeted ads using Facebook’s ad system since the ad buys will probably be fairly low in cost. 

Lastly, let’s not forget about the website that Haamonii has. In order to help carry over the theme of “sharing experiences”, the brand needed to make sure their website conveys that same message. Everything on their website needs to have a viral aspect as well – allowing people to download drink receipes or perhaps submitting their own versions of drinks that they mixed using Haamonii shochu. Having some user-generated content on the site will make people think more creatively about what they’re drinking and how this exclusive-sounding drink will be a great experience.

Of course the stated return on investment (ROI) is increasing the chatter about the product and selling more of the Haamonii shochu to consumers. Whether that’s employing more social media or finding a way to build on existing relationships remains to be seen. However, as it’s been seen during this Social Media Club event, Haamonii Smooth is looking forward to connecting with folks: those in marketing, social media, and of the alcoholic libation persuasion. So share the experience and pay it forward.

It’s the Haamonii way.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.