Evaluating the effectiveness of your Ambassador Program

On- and off-premise store audits are excellent tools for observing and capturing common merchandising metrics such as pricing data, display/POS presence, shelf location and SKU availability, to name a few. But they are also effective at capturing information that will help suppliers to understand if their Ambassador programs are working.

Effective ambassador programs help to shape a retailer’s view of a brand or portfolio of brands and always include value propositions. Ambassador programs may be overt or subtle; sometimes omitting reference to the supplier to avoid the “appearance” of bias.

The brand’s storied history, aged manufacturing processes, taste profile, unique ingredients, combined with optimal display and shelf placement, promotional message, signage or menu feature, and contribution to the store’s bottom-line are all part of the Ambassador’s message. The end game is to elevate the profile of the brand or portfolio and to convince the retailer that in doing so, it’s a win-win for the retailer.

Gauging Success

Given the time and expense of these programs, suppliers need tools to evaluate their Ambassador program’s overall effectiveness. It’s not enough to assume that because your ambassadors are out in the marketplace that the program is working and the retailer is on board.   So how do you measure if a program is successful? Through a variety of specific in-store observations and retailer engagements; it’s the best-of-the-best mystery shopping program.

First, you must identify the key performance indicators of the Ambassador program. These will likely differ between on- and off-premise channels, and may well be different between outlet types – it’s possible that your activations in a high-end liquor store will vary greatly to those in a grocery store. Target brands may also be different, so the audit program needs to be flexible.

KPIs might include: brand visibility in specific areas of the outlet, shelf stocking objectives with some minimum number of sizes, variants or total facings, branded displays of a certain size or store location, and brand recommendations by the retailer when asked for a type of product or trade-up from another popular brand.

Below is a sampling of KPIs that can be assessed through observation, interview or by purchasing the drink and observing assembly.  Underlined items are variables that are based on the brand specifics and the overall KPI.


  • KPI – Brand should be main ingredient in a cocktail AND be listed on drink/food menu. (Observation)
  • KPI – Brand should be specified on menu as an ingredient of a “Classic cocktail”.  (Observation)
  • KPI – Brand should be specified as main ingredient when bartender is asked “What’s in a XX cocktail?”  (Interview)
  • KPI – Brand should be suggested by bartender as trade-up when ordering a XX cocktail. (Order and observe)
  • KPI – Branded cocktail should be made with attention-getting style. (Order and observe)
  • KPI – Brand should be available with bottle service and served in a special container.  (Observation)
  • KPI – Bottle service should include both Brand1 and Brand2.  (Observation)


  • KPI – Brand to be on display with confectionary in high traffic area. (Observation)
  • KPI – Brand should be on display with recipe card. (Observation)
  • KPI – Brand should have a minimum of XX cases in the display. (Observation)
  • KPI – Brand recommended by staff when asked for a light & mixable drink.  (Interview)
  • KPI – Brand to be on display at end of/near the Whiskey aisle. (Observation)
  • KPI – Brand recommended when asked for a premium Bourbon. (Interview)
  • KPI – Brand to be on shelf with more than one size available AND with POS.  (Observation)
  • KPI – Brand to be on display at main checkout or in the drive aisle. (Observation)
  • KPI – Brand should be stocking in the cold box. (Observation)


For more information on how the Beverage Information Group can help you to assess the execution of your Ambassador programs, please contact Andrew Esham, 206-709-4112, aesham@specialtyim.com.

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