In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Ampersand Projects discussed how the origins of its competitive edge come from a strategy of consumer-focused innovation.
Ampersand Projects continued on its upward trajectory in 2022, recording impressive year on year growth and performance.
Two of the brand’s Co-founders and Directors, Alex Bottomley and Marcus Kellett, said the year’s numbers were incredibly strong, with 265,000 9L cases sold in FY22, at over 2400 stockists nationwide, across a portfolio of 22 SKUs and counting. Those are some huge results for an independent Australian company in its fifth year to continue to grow while competing against huge multinational players.
Bottomley described this competitive edge and said: “We have a track record of delivering unique and innovative products to the market that meet a consumer need or unlock a problem. We have always tried to innovate to deliver against consumer needs, regardless of cost.”
Kellett added: “Brand strength is a competitive edge, as we have created a brand that people want to associate with. The iconic symbol (&) is easily recognised on all our packaging and loyal followers are happy to tag us on their social media accounts sharing their experiences and proudly wearing our merchandise.”
Ampersand Projects has an incredibly engaged consumer following, which it attributes largely to doing things that other companies “cannot or are not willing to do.”
Alongside always free merch, the team manages all social media themselves, which gives the accounts a uniquely personal touch. It all goes back to that ultra consumer-focused nature of Ampersand Projects, boosted by a strong understanding of and connection to the Australian liquor industry.
“Staying close and in tune to the trade is key to our innovation strategy. There is no doubt that there is also an element of intuition involved. The three founders have all had significant experience in the industry and this helps when it comes to a sense of what will and what won’t work,” said Bottomley.
Ampersand Projects will be maintaining this strength in 2023 by doing what it does best.
“Innovation is and will always be one of our key strategic pillars. We need to innovate to continue to stay relevant and compete in a space that is dominated by global companies,” said Kellett.
The immediate focus in 2023 for this strategy will be focused on a groundbreaking NPD pipeline, as Ampersand Projects continues to work closely with offpremise partners to drive growth in-store. Supporting this will be an upweighted sales force to improve national distribution, with the brand moving from a third party service to its own in-house warehouse and logistics solution to streamline operations. 2023 will also be about maintaining the brand strength that consumers instantly recognise and connect with.
“We are lucky to have established a first mover advantage in a competitive space, having first entered the market in 2018,” Bottomley said.
“As more competitors hit the market it’s survival of the fittest to retain shelf space and presence. We reinvest in innovation and our customers to ensure that when it comes to a purchase decision, we are top of mind.”
Multicategory growth in 2022
Throughout last year, Ampersand Projects continued to expand its strengths with NPD innovations in a number of areas:
- High ABV RTD: Vodka Soda & Pine Lime 6% (which became the brand’s fastest growing NPD ever)
- Cocktails in a can: Tequila & Margarita, and Gin Fizz &
- Flavoured full spirits: Vodka & Passionfruit, Vodka & Pine Lime, and Purple Gin &
- Draught: Vodka Soda & Pine Lime (the brand’s first foray into on-premise keg format)