Taking on the high-risk and explosive billion-dollar distilling and distribution industries, Luke Battiloro launched his Vodka brand, Vavoom Vodka, directly to consumers and exclusively online. Today, we get to see an extensive and exciting behind-the-scenes look at Battiloro’s strategy at the time, and how exactly it resulted in the incredible success that it is today!
Hello Luke! Thank you for answering our questions today! Now, why don’t we start off with an introduction? Who are you, and what do you do?
Luke Battiloro: Hello! My name is Luke Battiloro. I’m the founder of Vavoom Vodka and a long-time entrepreneur. I’ve jumped between industries quite a bit, both as an owner and consultant for various companies. But, before creating my high-end vodka brand, I was mostly involved in selling CBD and dietary supplements, as well as consulting businesses on internet marketing, production, customer service, and human resources.
What have you enjoyed most about starting up your own brand?
Luke Battiloro: With Vavoom Vodka, I think I enjoyed a bit of everything. Creating my own brand was both challenging and satisfying for me. And I really tried to sink my teeth into the experience as much as I could. Whether it be in the actual designing of the product and its production, or the later stages with sales, branding, and marketing.
And, how exactly did you come up with the idea of Vavoom Vodka?
Luke Battiloro: It just came to me, and I do mean that literally. One day, I was going out shopping for some alcohol for a dinner I was invited to. I’m not the kind of guy to do things halfway, and I wanted to liven things up a bit. So, I was looking for something fun. Fun, but still nice and classy, you know? Something that would stand out.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I had this picture in my head of what vodka I wanted to present, or the vaguest sense of it anyway. But, as you can probably guess, I was pretty disappointed with the choices available at the time.
So, I decided to make some vodka myself!
How would you describe your Vodka to someone who has never seen or heard of it?
Luke Battiloro: Vavoom Vodka is a 100% grain-based, gluten-free, premium spirit that is five-times distilled. It’s one of the smoothest Vodka available in the market today, and its aesthetic packaging makes it equally one hell of a showpiece for personal collections and a tasteful gift for vodka enthusiasts and really, just about anyone looking for something fun and a little unique to drink and enjoy.
Speaking of ‘aesthetic packaging’! Can you tell us a little bit about the creative and production process that led you to the finished product?
Luke Battiloro: Have you ever heard of the CAD program? It’s a software for designers and manufacturers. I played around with it for quite a bit trying to design the Vavoom bottle. But I just couldn’t get it right. In the end, I ended up tapping into my Italian background and learning how to sculpt. That was quite the challenge in and of itself.
Sculpting figures is an art form just as much as it was an anatomy lesson. I think I went through seven designs, at least. Until I was able to create an extremely detailed sculpture of a woman’s figure that matched what I was picturing in my head.
And how about the vodka itself? How was the production of that like for you?
Luke Battiloro: The vodka itself took years of development. I wanted to make sure that the taste was able to live up to our larger-than-life bottle, of course. But, even more than that, I wanted people to drink our vodka and have the taste exceed their high expectations. For this, I partnered with a man with over 30 years of experience in making vodka. And, from thereon, we went back and forth, tweaking as we went until we were 100% satisfied with the formula.
What other considerations did you make at this stage that shaped the Vavoom Vodka we know today?
Luke Battiloro: With the bottle and the vodka complete, our next priority was creating a story that would be able to not only match our Vavoom Vodka but also be something that we truly believed in as a brand. We wanted to go beyond just selling great vodka, we wanted to give back, in our own way, by making a change in the world.
For that, we landed on the one thing that just clicked, the one thing that made sense, and that was to devote our Vodka as one meant to empower women — who are so often forgotten by the alcohol industry, which is a space that has always been thought of more traditionally for men than women. And our message was to Stai’ Bella — which means “stay beautiful” in Italian. And, to be clear, we’re not talking about just physical attractiveness here. We use the term beautiful in every sense of the word.
What other ways have you found to spread your message?
Luke Battiloro: Philanthropy was the next step for us. We’ve set up various charitable components to Vavoom Vodka, like The Vavoom Fund or our nonprofit I Choose to Live, to support various charities and movements, to make sure that we can give back to the world, in whatever way we can.
Now, shifting our subject for a bit, can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to exclusively sell online?
Luke Battiloro: The alcohol industry is big and it’s majorly competitive. It stands at almost $30 billion, and it’s only going to continue growing. Because of that, just like many other major industries, it’s a very difficult space to make your own. I took on the challenge of founding Vavoom Vodka despite that, but I knew that I had to think outside of the box and do something new.
In doing so, Vavoom Vodka became the first vodka to ever be sold online.
And how has it been since you’ve launched? Did you experience any bumps along the way?
Luke Battiloro: I can officially say that it’s been a success! Despite the bumpiness of the year 2020 in general, Vavoom Vodka was able to see major success in the past year. The pandemic has had some effect, of course, but rather than pull us down, we’ve actually been able to grow over 300% since it began.
What did you end up prioritizing most in the past year?
Luke Battiloro: Shipping and checkout experience. Both very important things for an e-commerce business, of course. But as you can probably guess, efficiency became an even bigger deal in the last year.
With everyone unable to leave their homes without risking their health, a lot of people began to rely on online shopping more. This wasn’t too big of a problem for us, as you can probably imagine, since we were already shipping our products direct to consumers — which some of the bigger companies were still struggling with at the time. But, that didn’t mean we could be lax about our service! We always try to push for better service wherever possible, and that didn’t change last year.
We wanted to make sure that we were able to compete with the bigger online retail companies who shipped express while also sticking to prices that our customers would consider fair. And, of course, in order to enhance the overall customer experience, we’ve improved upon our checkout process as well.
Finally, to finish off this tips & tricks section. For our readers who are looking to share in your success, what marketing strategies did you find most effective last year?
Luke Battiloro: Well, for one, I learned that, if you want to sell your product and sell it fast, you need to create urgency. Flash Sales are a great example of this. Everyone loves a good deal and creating a sense of urgency around that deal will get you more of the conversions that you’re looking for. It’s a pretty straightforward strategy, but it definitely works!
I’ve also found that sometimes, even the little things, like making sure your checkout process is simple and fast or switching out the color of your buttons to invoke a certain mood, has been very effective at increasing sales.
Again, thank you very much for joining us today! Before we leave you, however, what social media are you the most active in at the moment? Just so our readers know where they can find you.
Luke Battiloro: I’ve always been the most active on Instagram (@lukebattiloro), so if you want to know more about me and how I live my daily life, you can check me out there.