You have read that correctly! Summer is more important than the winter season for selling. How can that be? Huh? Has Rosen lost his marbles? Well perhaps, but hear me out. When I was CEO of America’s largest wines stores, I always shared that 43% of our YEARLY sales happened after Halloween. Nearly half our revenue came during the last 8 weeks of the year. We lived in fear of a snow storm, a sick call out, and an out of stock of a key brand. Those last 8 weeks are critical for anyone in our business no matter what tier.
But, those last 8 weeks are set up by the summer months. Summer is the pre – season. The long, slow hours of pitching brands when no one is buying. The seemingly wasted time at a store tasting when the main customer base is on vacation. Those empty and mundane tasks are all a prelude to Holiday season.
Take your time when time is given- In the major markets that the US consumer thrives in much of the summer is spent with family and traveling. While the customer is away, it a perfect opportunity to meet the retailer, meet the mixologist and meet other decision makers that will make themselves available to you currently but will hide post 10/31.
1) Hone your craft- Being a brand is not an easy task. No one actually needs you or what you sell. Use this off time to figure out your brand attributes and your pitch. No one, and I mean no one, needs a $40 vodka. But if there is something about your brand, or this vodka, that makes price last on a decision tree, than you have a better chance for placement. When we sell, we use things like financial motivation, pull off shelf and marketing more than we use flavor profile. Use this quiet time to be better prepared for the end of the year.
2) Crystal Ball- If you are in a retail store now, or a wines by the glass program now, hold on to it. Over market it now, over support it now, over visit it and pay attention to it now and it will be held for the 4th quarter. Retailers and restaurants want easy not hard. They want smooth not rough. Have successful events when the retailer needs it during slow time, and they will reward you for EOY. Any one brand can be a hot seller post Halloween because everyone’s a buyer. Don't think you are hot in December because you are selling. Hot brands sell well in February. Everyone sells well during Christmas.
3) Fix the fixable- Summer will be you last chance to manage your distributor. Last chance to switch distributors and last change to have an active role in your pricing. In the distributor world, of course pending who you wholesale with, squeaky wheel gets grease, in the 4th quarter, squeaky wheel gets fired.
4) Attention/ Attention- retailers are an odd lot. Restauranteurs as well. They reward the people that they know that will fight in the trenches with them. If you as a brand owners showing a ton of attention in the summer months you will be rewarded with PO’s in the fall. As long as I have been in the game that has been the story.
So yes, winter is where it matters, no question. Without a solid winter many brands run out of cash my March the following year. But like sports, summer is a pre- season and while a good preseason is not indicative of seasonal success, it sure will help. Your customers, your accounts and your brands will thank you.