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When Renee Patel and Tina Govan bought the Thirsty Liquor brand in April this year, they knew they wanted to expand the brand even more throughout the country, but first things first. Their immediate priority was getting word of the stores out to the trade and the public. So they re-designed the company website and created a number of additional functionalities including a new online shopping facility, the ability to sign up on-line to the Thirsty Loyalty Card programme and the ability to purchase Thirsty gift vouchers on line, to name but a few changes.


Prior to them owning the brand, it was essential to go into a Thirsty Liquor store to become a loyalty member. Now, it happens with the click of a button. Membership is immediate, easier and for the consumer – faster to start earning rewards. After just two months in the business, fans of Thirsty Liquor’s Facebook page grew significantly. They now have over 9,000 followers – an extremely high numbers of fans for a liquor banner in New Zealand on Facebook. These two have passion and drive.


In seven months, the business duo have opened up 14 new Thirsty stores up and down the country and the brand now has over 62 stores nationwide. “The biggest growth area is Auckland but we are focusing on growth in all areas of the country,” says Tina Govan. Each Thirsty Liquor store operates as an independent enterprise with an owneroperator, but Govan and Patel come into the big picture by negotiating pricing and monthly specials for the group with all major suppliers.


And, just as importantly, this successful business team does all the advertising and marketing for the entire brand. They are more than qualified for the roles they have undertaken. Patel has worked in the liquor industry for nine years now and was the first Thirsty Liquor store owner when she signed up in 2011 at her Huapai store. She has been in retail as the owner of a number of different businesses for over 25 years.


Govan worked at Independent Liquor for three years and held senior financial roles in large FMCG corporate companies prior to that. Between them, they have a wide range of commercial and business skills and experience – not to mention a broad range of contacts. One of the most important steps now is to grow brand awareness through social media marketing and sponsorship deals. “Our website, Facebook and Twitter are all working well for us.


We are also part of the Ultimate Student website, which is backed by over 40 tertiary campuses up and down the country reaching over 700,000 students nationwide. We are the only liquor banner group exclusive to that site, so that gives us strong in-roads to a big potential market,” Patel says.


The Thirsty Liquor website includes a constant range of appealing specials and has full details of each store’s location. They have their own-branded beer - Thirsty Draught (in cans) which sells in every store and from early next year, will be joined by Thirsty Lager, packaged in 330ml bottles.


This passionate and hard-working pair have now secured a major sponsorship deal in the D1NZ National Drifting Championships – check out the Thirsty Nissan Skyline R34 Car driven by Darren Kelly - D1NZ 2012/2013 Pro-Am Champion. There are six events being held nationwide running from November 2013 through to May 2014, giving them excellent brand exposure.


Originally Published in DRINKSBIZ magazine - December 2013 / January 2014

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