What’s the flavour that takes you all the way back to childhood? Was it a freezie, a candy, a soda? Were you a creamsicle fan, or more of a root beer enthusiast? Chances are, Wize Spirits Co. has made a beverage out of your fondest sticky-fingered memories. Wize is a vodka soda company with a genuine twist: nostalgic flavours for grown-ups.
“Eugene Park, our co-founder and CEO, had worked in the alcohol industry for ten to fifteen years before starting Wize,” explains Claudia Knappet, Operations Director. “He knew he wanted to create something of his own, something totally different. Nostalgic flavours were a fun, fresh idea. He wanted our drinks to taste like the things you’d find in a convenience store in the nineties.”
Wize launched in 2019, so—unbeknownst to the team—there was a massive challenge right around the corner. Starting up a vodka soda company in an undeniably saturated market would have been tricky enough, but doing so during a global pandemic? The team’s core objective was to remain rooted in what made them different. They knew they weren’t selling a generic vodka soda. So, how could they make that known?
“Of course, we couldn’t hold events during the pandemic. And getting people to try a drink is a real in-person kind of thing normally, right? We had to get creative and find alternatives. And we had to rely on each team members’ strengths to stay on top of what was going on.”
Luckily, Wize has—as Claudia put it—a “Creative Director with a very strategic brain” in Aleks Kozak. Under Aleks’ leadership, they were able to successfully adjust their promotional strategy. That meant leaning into digital and creating community in online spaces. That meant capitalizing on the explosive popularity of a platform like TikTok.
Nowadays, with the worst of the pandemic behind them, the team is free to experiment with the kinds of experiences they can offer their customers. A great example is their Sky X Wize Nostalgia Vodka Soda Tour. This collaboration with Sky Helicopters offers one-hour tours of BC’s beautiful Coast Mountains and backcountry vodka beverage tastings.
“Regardless of where or how we engage people, we are always trying to stay true to our own brand. Our brand is unique, fun, and authentic. That doesn’t change.”
When you’re crafting a brand with staying power, all the little details count. That’s why it was an unfortunate setback to have a mixed pack out on the market that generated some negative feedback.
“When we first launched our nostalgic mixed-pack, the original design for the folding carton didn’t have a handle, and our customers didn’t like that. So, we reached out to Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC) and they were able to design a carton with the proper handle. The consumer feedback was great; everyone thought the new box offered a much smoother, more convenient experience.”
That was the beginning of a beautiful new partnership. In the exceptionally dynamic alcohol industry, having a responsive supplier is a must. “GLBC is great! They get back to us ASAP and we can always tell they are doing their best to support our priorities.”
Those priorities, going forward, are to continue expanding. Wize is found in liquor stores throughout BC, Alberta, and Ontario. But all of North America is on the horizon.
“We’re grateful that when we launched, there just happened to be a trend for nineties nostalgic flavours. We know that this is something customers want. So, we’re looking forward to seeing our vodka sodas everywhere.”
Cheers, Wize! We’re very proud to be packaging the type of experience you’re offering fun for adults who cherish the simplest, tastiest, throwback pleasures.