TEL AVIV, ISRAEL—Bottoms up! Ripples is a device that prints on beer or coffee, enabling brands like Marriott and Four Seasons to engage with guests on the first sip. It’s a new marketing tool that is getting brands in front of customers, literally.
Co-founded by Yossi Meshulam, Ripples started out on the coffee scene riding the wave of lattes being transformed into works of art. Seeing the impact on the coffee industry, Ripples ventured into printing on beer.
“Since we introduced Coffee Ripples to the food and beverage industry about two years ago, it turned the daily routine of getting a cup of coffee into a fun and engaging experience, while serving millions of cups of coffee with Ripples to coffee lovers around the world,” said Meshulam. “Seeing the effect of Ripples on coffee, we decided to create a similar platform that prints on beer to bring this entertaining experience to a new type of hospitality setting. Beer is consumed in different social settings and represents new content opportunities for our customers to engage with their customers.”
When someone has their favorite beverage customized with a personal message, selfie, logo or image, they are surprised by both the technology and content. The messaging has a way of capturing interest among guests.
“They want to share it with their friends, family and followers on social media. This becomes a great way for our customers to enjoy authentic user-generated content that builds their brand and creates meaningful differentiation,” he said. “Moreover, we find that drinkers’ first Ripples experience creates a sense of anticipation for the drinks that follow the first one. They are either looking forward to seeing what will be printed on their next beer or they start creating their own content. This interaction further deepens customers’ engagement and enhances their guest experience.”
Here’s how it works: The printer combines inkjet and 3D printing technologies to create high-resolution images right on top of beer foam in 10 seconds. The images are produced using a malt-based ink, which doesn’t impact the flavor, and uses one of the key ingredients beer is made from, noted Meshulam. In order to achieve the best quality and lasting images, the printer requires a good head of foam on a beer.
Ripples is designed as a content platform and there are myriad ways to upload content to the Ripple Maker, so the sky’s the limit on potential marketing opportunities. Clients have access to a growing content library of images and messages to print, created by Ripple’s in-house creative team.
“The Ripple Maker comes pre-loaded with our selected content from our library, which updates automatically because the device is connected to the internet. Hoteliers can also add their own customized images such as their logo. In addition, customers can download the Ripples app for iOS or Android and send their own images to the machine to be printed,” he said.
“We offer these diverse touchpoints because we view the coffee and beer as an engagement platform where every customers’ experience can be unique. We are constantly adding new content to our content library, so there is always something new and entertaining to offer. Beer content examples include ‘Beer me up,’ ‘Beer makes everything better,’ ‘Can I buy you another drink,’ ‘Just drink it,’ and ‘This girl needs a beer.’”
Meshulam touts major brands like Marriott and Four Seasons among Ripples’ clientele. In terms of how hoteliers are using the technology, it can be as simple as a welcome drink upon check-in or beverage served with a meal.
“They use Ripples to entertain and surprise their guests throughout their stay on drinks by the pool, during a business meeting in the business lounge or a late-night beer at the lobby bar,” he said. “Hilton uses the Ripple Maker in London’s Tower Bridge hotel for drinks. Hilton Tel Aviv keeps adding Ripple Makers to different stations within their hotel to get the experience to more people throughout spaces in their hotel. They serve different content in different hotel locations to maximize the experience for the guests, so the stay becomes memorable.”
How can hoteliers gauge their return on investment when using Ripples? First, there’s brand awareness and social media promotion. “The experience of a personalized beverage leads patrons to generate social content for hoteliers. This makes it a great marketing opportunity to increase brand awareness,” he said. “Some hoteliers create awareness and promote in-hotel attractions—spa treatments, jeep tours, etc.—and offer Ripples as a service for banquets and business events.”
And then there’s hard ROI such as what is generated from incremental sales. “Some hoteliers are using Ripples to promote and upsell certain drinks such as themed beers, or simply to get customers to stay longer and have another drink to get a new personalized experience.”
Earlier this year, Ripples participated in a St. Patrick’s Day marketing campaign for Guinness Israel at various bars in different cities in Israel. The brand saw solid results.
“The bars saw an average growth of 35% in Guinness sales compared to the same activity last year. One bar that was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for the first time actually saw a whopping 600% growth in sales,” he said. “What was particularly interesting, 20% drank Guinness for the first time because they were personalized. The event also reached 360,000 with #guinnessisrael. Overall, 98% of customers who voted rated the experience a five out of five stars.”