New drinks consultancy company A/O launches

Robin Honhold, formerly of award-winning bar Dandelyan, and marketing and technology expert Mark Jennings have partnered to launch a consumer-focussed consultancy company, called A/O.

Honhold was ex-head of operations for White Lyan, Dandelyan and Cub in London, and has 14 years’ experience in hospitality and brand consultancy.

Jennings is a marketing and technology expert with 20 years’ global experience working for brands such as Sky, Jimmy Choo and Samsung.

A/O, named after the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, will offer services including consumer journey mapping, new product development, technology and ‘disruptive entrepreneurship’ services to ‘progressive’ food and drinks brands.

Honhold said: “At A/O, our passion for giving consumers an unforgettable experience, coupled with our belief in putting them at the heart of our work stems from extensive experience playing the host – in both physical and digital consumer journeys.

“It is in the rich vein that runs through the heart of all projects, from creating products that themselves play a larger role in addressing needs, to building technology that creates a smart mechanism for connecting with needs. It all comes back to being a better host for the people we want to reach.

Past experience between the pair includes creating a non-alcoholic experience for Three Spirit and launching the ‘first’ direct-to-consumer cocktail business. A/O hopes to help established brands solve new challenges and aid new startups looking to scale up.

“We’re fanatical about identifying and meeting the unmet needs of consumers because it’s the right thing to do – ethically and commercially,” said Jennings. “When the world changed, any gap in a brand’s connection to consumers became painfully obvious.

“Now everyone is trying to understand what the solution is and we think we have a unique set of skills to help them.”

Honhold and Jennings recently worked with LVMH-owned Ardbeg through its agency Imagination to uncover insights from hard-to-reach consumers in 14 days.

Nick Blenkarne, creative strategy director at Imagination, said: “We always aim to seek out the best experts to help us gain insight into categories and customers. Through working with A/O on a recent ideation project for Ardbeg, we found exactly that combination of Robin’s extraordinary on-trade experience coupled with Mark’s creative and strategic approach makes for a brilliant and dynamic team.”

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Author: Melita Kiely

Timothy Kelly

Tim is the Founder & Master Distiller at Felene. He developed his passion for the spirits and hospitality business while growing-up and working in his family's restaurant and liquor store business. Tim’s passion for the epicurean lifestyle has found it’s latest manifestation in the Felene Distillery. Tim is a 5-time Gold Medal Award winning Distiller. He has won a Platinum medal at the Prestigious Los Angeles Spirits Awards and his signature vodka was named Best-in-Category by the American Distilling Institute. Mr. Kelly is also a prolific author and writer and his blog is filled with ideas, discoveries, observations and recommendations to help his readers enjoy life’s simple epicurean pleasures.

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