Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BuyYourFriendaDrink.com & The Local Watering Holes

One of the popular early Facebook mini applications is BoozeMail. The application allows users to send friends virtual drinks (or even a round of drinks) on Facebook. Currently the application has 213,215 monthly active users sending each other mojitos, sangrias or any other drink from the menu. If only they were real...


The idea of sending people drinks online is one that has been fantasized about since the early days of online media. While we were busy toting around closed circuit Palm Pilots, we often daydreamed about the doors wireless mobility would unlock for PDAs “If only there was a way to send people stuff (like drinks) while they were on the go”... Sigh

One dream scenario was to be able to send a friend a drink at a location they are either at or close to. Through GPS technology, the dream has become more realistic than ever. The only missing link is the network of bars that would participate in delivering on the goods. Today, I thought it would be fun to dig a bit into what has been done in this area.

I talked to Barbara Liss, the VP of Marketing for BuyYourFriendaDrink.com. The company launched out of New Jersey and Texas but has virtual offices in Chicago, San Francisco and New York. BuyYourFriendaDrink lets consumers send drinks to each other online and is starting to pull together a decent sized network of bars that can fulfill sent drinks from across the country.

The company has a couple of business models. Among them are:

Consumer to Consumer – Literally, buy your friend a drink online, they redeem the drink at a participating bar. The site also lets you send rounds of drinks to friends that are at events you are unable to attend (provided of course that the bar is part of the network)

Beer, Wine and Spirit Companies – Branded drink cards are integrated with most bar & restaurant POS systems for fulfillment. The cards act as real accounts and can be used as loyalty programs (bonus birthday drink etc.). The cards also provides the beer, wine or spirit brand with interesting data about the user (location, frequency, tab sizes etc.).

Below is an example of Hornitos' Buy Your Amigo an Hornitos initiative using the BuyYorFriendaDrink backbone:


When I asked Barbara about the barriers to getting the network to where they want it to be, she explained that the barriers are really more about having the resources to reach out to the hundreds of thousands of establishments that could participate nationally (feet on the street - sound familiar?).

Once the bar owners are contacted, the sale is quite easy. The benefits to participation are quite simple:
  • Drive customers to the establishment through sent drinks as well as local promotional events during off hours (wine or drink tasting events)
  • Increase average tab sizes – (where there is a drink, there may also be food)
BuyYourFriendaDrink will be launching its own Facebook application within the next few weeks. The application will be similar to BoozeMail only now there will be actual drinks involved. I wonder if an acquisition was ever on the table here. I have to believe that an application with 213,215 active monthly users has some value when you're working this hard to cover the country.

I think that the company is doing some interesting work in the local landscape. Rallying hundreds of bar owners is not an easy task. It’s also a critical ingredient to the success of this or any other local promotional-type network.

We’re so close to the GPS enabled send a drink dream. Taking a good look at all the effort that goes into building national networks involving local businesses provides a sobering view of how long big concepts take to penetrate the local market.

The service is only available in the US but Liss is clearly interested in entering the Canadian market once the US network is nailed down. Until then, us Canadians will have to keep it real and actually go out for drinks…

2 comments:

04/09/85 said...

You should try out

www.YouGotBeer.com

They already have a national network!

Sonia Carreno said...

Thanks 04/09/85...Looks like YouGotBeer (love the name by the way) locked up some national chains to speed things up...clever. So the questions are:

- How much room is there for multiple programs from multiple services like YouGotBeer & BuyYourFriendaDrink for these bars?
- How much will atmosphere dictate success? By that I mean is the a greater appeal to send people drinks at their local watering holes vs. sending them to family restaurants?

My personal question is - how many drinks are sent per day? BuyYourFriendaDrink's website states 15,000 drinks served... Is this a sustainable market?