At Marketing Trends, we are discovering what drives Australia’s top marketers. Victoria Tulloch is Head of Marketing at Australia's most-awarded distillery: Archie Rose. In this interview, she tells us about growing trends in the craft industries, how the company pivoted from producing spirits to hand sanitiser last year, and their new distillery in Botany, Sydney - one of the largest in the southern hemisphere.
Read her story here:
Career & professional background
Victoria, how did your career in marketing start?
I grew up in the Hunter Valley as part of a fourth generation wine family and was lucky to do my first marketing stint via work experience with a PR / comms agency in Sydney at 16. That was enough to lure me to a BA Comms / Journalism post school and 20+ years of agency and consumer marketing since.
If you hadn’t pursued a career in marketing, in which other industry do you think you might be?
Psychology. I’m fascinated by people’s personalities and how this impacts the choices they make. Beyond the school of life I’d love to study it more formally one day.
Could you tell us about your role as Head of Marketing at Archie Rose Distilling Co.?
I've been lucky to work with Archie Rose since day one: firstly as an external consultant via my own business; and now in-house heading a team of eight people responsible for design, packaging, ecommerce, brand and marketing, as well as serving as part of the management team responsible for new product development and growing Archie Rose to be one of the world’s great independent brands.
It’s an absolute pleasure to be part of a talented, high performing team led by an exceptional founder, building a brand at the nexus of innovation, quality, design and culture with the ultimate mission of bringing spirits that hero ethically sourced Australian ingredients to the world.
Marketing & Industry Trends
What type of impact has COVID- 19 had on your industry?
It’s been a mixed bag, as on the one hand we’ve been lucky to be an essential service that switched quickly from producing spirits to hand sanitiser last year. And since then, has been able to continue manufacturing with strong demand via channels such as eCommerce and retail.
Whilst on the other hand, our venue has been shut for long periods, along with many of our fellow venues and customers around the country. Fortunately, we’ve been able to redeploy our venue team to the warehouse through both NSW lockdowns and have overall been able to grow our full team and business throughout, for which we’re very grateful.
Brand wise, we’ve remained very focused on telling these stories and making incredible spirits and bottled cocktails that hero local ingredients as well as thousands of virtual events to provide some joy to people throughout a really challenging time - and for that reason, we’ve also been lucky to accelerate our awareness and database significantly over the last eighteen months.
What is the most exciting trend or innovation happening in your field in terms of growth?
I’d say it’s the continued growth of craft industries and independent producers in categories such as spirits, beer, coffee, food and design around the world, which has both driven and responded to consumer demand for craftsmanship, provenance and discovery above price - if anything the pandemic and the desire to support ‘local’ has accelerated this growth.
We’re really happy to have played a role in growing this movement in Australia and to remain an independent distillery that, with the benefit of our new distillery in Botany, Sydney - one of the largest in the southern hemisphere - can now bring authentic local spirits that hero ethically sourced Australian botanicals, grains and other ingredients at scale to more people as an alternative to the same five or so multinationals found on every shelf.
This also intersects with what was a trend, but is now a consumer demand for ethically produced, sustainable products that are better meeting environmental and social impact challenges.
As a marketer, what do you believe is the biggest challenge facing your industry in the future?
Balancing the continued duopoly dominance and allure of driving online growth via Facebook and Google against their market freedoms. It troubles me daily on a variety of professional and personal levels and is something we will continue to counter as we build the next stage of our rollout.
Tools, recommendations & sources of inspiration
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you structure your week?
I’m up at 5.15am, I do personal and work admin while the house is still asleep until the sun is up, and I then do a daily 5km run as part of a current 5kms X 365 day program I signed up to during the latest Sydney lockdown. Nuts.
My days and weeks are otherwise a balance of marketing team / partner / management team and new product development and launch catch ups. Pre-pandemic I used to go to a lot of cultural events and can’t wait for live music, theatre, festivals to return in 2022.
Otherwise, it’s a mad dash back to do dinner, homework and house admin each night with the family. It’s a pretty finely tuned routine that 85% of the time works pretty well and is otherwise subject to regular derailing - the nature of which tends to change as the kids move through different stages of life. I feel eternally lucky to have a life partner that equally splits the work, life and parenting load as well as mayhem and moral support on all fronts.
What brands do you take inspiration from?
I never had anything but an exceptional time in Aesop and Mecca, two Australian brands and retailers that do it pretty much as well if not better than any others in the world. The Aesop Book is a masterclass in building a truly exceptional and beautiful brand from the ground up.
I admire brands like Converse for the way they’ve transcended their original subculture to be mass market zeitgeist brands built around limited editions and collaborations - everything from DC Comics to PLAY with Comme des Garcons. And for the most part LVMH continues to be a vanguard for guiding and innovating heritage retail brands across diverse categories.
I’m otherwise pretty hardwired around smaller, independent brands - whether it’s the French clothing brand APC if I’m feeling (particularly) flush, Maison Balzac and Dinosaur Designs as local go to gifts for friends and family, Strangelove and Capi as two great Australian brands in the mixer world. Holy Goat Cheese as an excellent and truly delicious example of a very small, beautiful artisan brand, and of course Archie Rose and the family drop Tulloch Wines!
These are all brands built first and foremost on exceptional product - so while in many cases they’re reaching small audiences the strength of these brands is 100% authentic in a way that bigger brands often struggle with.
Software and tools recommendations: what is the one software you can’t work without and why?
Despite the comments on Google and Facebook above, it’s the building blocks of Gmail and Gmail Calendar, Google Drive, Whatsapp and then SMS that keeps me professionally and personally on track.
Oh, and findmyiphone. But mostly it’s the real life stuff that really steers the ship i.e. sitting at the dinner table with the family to talk through what’s going on and the catch ups I have with team members and Archie Rose founder, Will, each week - fingers crossed we can now continue to do these mostly face to face versus the narrow tunnel of video calls.
What are three resources you would recommend for anyone working in your field?
- Once upon a time, I over-indexed on reading - at last count there’s 1000+ books lining our living room - but time and sleep is now the enemy here. So www.blinkist.com has been a reasonable subscription for this year in terms of helping me plough through some non-fiction stuff and as a fast emergency aid when you need it (parenting!) I’d still say that the long form is better though, in terms of being able to do the deep thinking that allows you to properly retain and process info. And I’d also recommend a bookclub to keep you reading great fiction - mine is now 15 plus years in.
- I was gifted a free subscription to Masterclass recently, and it’s been a decent companion on the commute to work. I’m on Chris Voss and negotiation techniques this week - and waiting to see whether anyone notices me ‘mirroring’ and ‘labelling’ as a way of ending debates. I’m having limited success on this front with the 12 year old in the house.
- I subscribe to Business Of Fashion, which I’d suggest is one of the best examples of a ‘trade’ media platform in the world, in this instance relating to the ‘$.2.5 trillion fashion industry’ but really offering a daily temperature check and deep insights and case studies into the world’s best premium retail brands.
- I’m also a big fan of Monocle Radio. Pre-'podcast era', the Entrepreneur’s Program was a great insight to companies that you otherwise don’t hear much about. There’s rarely a time I don’t get a valuable insight for use in my professional life.