It’s easy to understand why brands that sell products online work with social media influencers. A fashion brand might send an Instagram star a free jacket hoping they’ll take artistic lifestyle photos that lead people to order that jacket online.

But what about brands that lack an e-commerce presence? Will influencer marketing help even though they don’t sell products online? When it comes to alcohol brands, the answer is a resounding “yes” as they’re using influencer marketing to promote brand recognition, create affinity among consumers and generate awareness.

Here are three alcohol brands using influencers in smart, innovative ways:

Stoli Goes “Elit”

To get the word out about it’s new brand “Elit,” Stoli tapped Instagram influencers. The Elit by Stoli Instagram page has around 4,000 followers, but the brand collaborated with two menswear influencers (Matthew Zorpas, 159k followers and Leo Chan of Levitate Style, 83k followers) to reach a large but targeted audience — style-conscious guys on Instagram. Each blogger produced two to three Instagram posts showing Elit by Stoli fitting into their fashionable aesthetics.

The program resulted in a major increase in reach. One particular image from Levitate Style tells that story perfectly. Depicting a stylish couple enjoying martinis, the image got more than 1,800 likes on Levitate Style’s page. On the official Elit by Stoli page, that same image only generated 74 likes.

Budweiser Goes Heavy

Scrolling through Budweiser’s official Instagram page, you won’t see much user-generated content. Instead, the brand relies on influencer partnerships to widen its audience. One such influencer is Lace Morris, an ex-Bachelor contestant turned Instagram star with over 374k followers. One Budweiser-sponsored post to her page reaches more people than a post from Budweiser’s own account (229k followers), and the audience is much more targeted than whoever happens to follow @Budweiser. Plus, people tend to trust influencers and their opinions much more than a brand’s marketing department — making the partnership a no-brainer.

Game days are better with my partner @budweiser! #thisbudsforyou

A post shared by Lace Morris (@lacemorris3) on

Budweiser also tapped influencers for its #BudHeavy campaign. The brand is working with influencers in cities across America to showcase how cool their cities are (and, of course, how Budweiser fits into it all). Each city gets its own hashtag (#PhillyHeavy for example) and the influencers tend to be young movers-and-shakers. The brand also sponsors fashion and music events, giving passes to a handful of influencers on the goodwill that they’ll post photos from the event. By tapping influencers, Budweiser connects itself with each city, using the influencers’ lens to mark itself as a brand that understands the soul of each hometown.

The I.W. Harper Reinvention

I.W. Harper is a 145-year-old whiskey brand that was re-launched in 2015. To drum up support, I.W. Harper is collaborating with African-American menswear bloggers and influencers, including Men’s Style Pro, DC Fashion Fool, Style Society Guy, Paris Pullen and Ryan Styles NYC. Going beyond digital, I.W. Harper throws cocktail parties and whiskey tastings for their influencers, hoping of course that they’ll take photos and share them online. Those images make for phenomenal content that I. W. Harper can repurpose. Using a more organic approach to marketing, the brand’s focused influencer base and cocktail-party model creates brand associations and allegiances on a personal level.

Although you can’t order a bottle of alcohol directly from a brand’s website, the importance of a strong influencer marketing campaign cannot be overlooked. And when it comes to alcohol brands doing it well, they realize the power of influencers is greater than the number of people who follow the brand’s official account. Influencer marketing is targeted, lifestyle-heavy, and reaches a far broader audience than a brand’s own account — a worthy cause for any brand, regardless of online sales.

Interested in influencer marketing? Curalate can help you find social media influencers and authentic content at scale. Get a demo to learn more.

Want to learn how to work with bloggers and social media superstars to market your brand? Check out our free guide How to Win Fans and Influence Purchases to learn all about influencer marketing.