AUSTIN, TX: Diageo, the alcoholic drinks company, is responding to shifts in consumer perceptions of luxury by connecting various brands with compelling experiences.

Syl Saller, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, discussed how attitudes towards high-end industries are evolving at the 2017 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference.

"It's not about what I own," she said. "It's about who I am." (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: Diageo brews up enticing brand experiences.)

One illustration of how the company aims to meet new consumer priorities is linking Zacapa, a high-end rum made approximately 2,300 metres above sea level to ensure it ages more slowly, with a select group of restaurants.

"We really express Zacapa with the notion of, 'The art of slow'. And we offer special packages with Michelin-starred restaurants that offer slow dining. It's a more reflective, more soulful way of being," Saller explained.

Meanwhile, Johnnie Walker runs a range of branded venues that provide fine dining and culture for consumers to enjoy – as well as the ability for affluent customers to blend their own whisky.

"We have the traditional ultra-high-net-worth [opportunities]," said Saller. "You could go to the Johnnie Walker House in Beijing or Shanghai and have your own personalised blend made."

To supply more consumers with engaging experiences, Johnnie Walker also launched a "Skill" for Amazon Alexa, the voice-controlled interactive platform, that helps people find their perfect blend and receive personalised tasting tips.

"You can just say, 'Alexa, what sort of Johnnie Walker should I buy?'" Saller said. "You can get a whole mentoring session, personalised to what you're asking for in terms of what type of Johnnie Walker you want. That's the trend of a more democratised luxury, a more personalised luxury."

Similarly, the firm tries to enhance the experience in drinking establishments worldwide with an annual contest where mixologists vie to be named "Bartender of the Year" by participating in city, state and national contests against their peers, before 60 or so make it through to the final round.

"Our real point is: To get to those 60, we train 250,000 bartenders to serve great drinks everywhere. And that's our real goal: That everybody gets into whatever bar they're in and have a fantastic [experience]," Saller said.

Data sourced from WARC