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High-tech Diageo Collaboration Center bows in Stamford

A new experiential center for customers and business partners opens today at Diageo’s Stamford headquarters.

The 17,000-square-foot Diageo Collaboration Center, located within the British adult beverage behemoth’s Stamford campus at 200 Elm St., is designed to share constantly updated data with retailers and distributors in order for them to better understand Diageo’s priorities and how to meet the challenges of a changing alcoholic beverage environment.

“This is an opportunity to make our company more accessible to our customers in North America,” Steve Wallet, Vice President Category Development, Shopper Marketing and eCommerce, told the Business Journal. “We want to bring them into this facility and really inspire them.”

To that end, the center is divided into two zones: “See It” and “Live It.” Wallet said that the former utilizes immersive technology to share trends and insights around the disruptive forces shaping society, while the latter provides simulated examples from various purchasing occasions and such consumer touchpoints as the home, bar and store.

Guided by a Diageo team, visitors will — on an invitation-only basis — travel through eight unique rooms, where they can see not just where Diageo is now, but also what the alcohol retail industry may look like in the future.

“Cocktails are very hot right now,” Wallet said, “and we have on-staff mixologists to demonstrate what the latest trends are there. One of the ideas is to share what we’re going for in the spirits and beer categories.”

Diageo’s brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit and Buchanan’s whiskies; Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas; Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

“Consumers and shoppers today are interested in customizing what they offer their guests,” Wallet said. “What’s going on in the world right now is people are looking for convenience in everything they do. Everyone is looking for information.”

Through technology, “We can show them different consumer settings, like a get-together at a bar or a barbecue in the backyard, in a space that’s like an amphitheater with 360-degree views,” Wallet said. “It’s another way for them to see consumers interacting with our products.”

Diageo draws its data from the likes of Nielsen and IRI on a monthly basis, and has developed a set of customer-research tools that “allow our retail clients to understand emerging patterns in real-time and an ongoing manner.

“We believe we can provide insights and data that no one else can,” Wallet stated.

Visitor groups will generally be limited to five or six employees of a retailer, distributor or agency, he said, though the space can host up to 35 during educational training sessions.

The new center is designed to complement both its Research & Development/Innovation Center in Stamford as well as Diageo’s similar global Experience Center in London. Wallet said the decision to add a North American version had been in the works for years, with a final decision more or less made when the company moved its North American headquarters from Norwalk to New York City in 2020.

While another collaboration center may eventually join the lineup, he said the company wants to focus on Stamford and London for now.

The new center also plays into “Society 2030,” Diageo’s 10-year inclusion and sustainability action plan. The facility is LEED Gold Certified, was awarded the “Access to Quality Transit” LEED credit, and incorporates Energy Star equipment and appliances.

While virtual visits are technically possible, Wallet said that Diageo much prefers its partners come in person to get the full experience. “There are over 550 points of contact within the facility,” he said. “Its power is in bringing people together.”

Typically a tour will take about 1½ days to complete, he said.

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