I get emails all the time from retailers who are beside themselves with the big box movement. I also get calls from frantic retailers that think that grocery stores are taking over the USA, and if grocery stores can sell wine or sell wine on Sunday then said retailer might as well close their doors.
As the great poet of the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, once said in a moment of clarity, R.E.L.A.X!
While I am no poet, I can share the same comment, as off premise retail will be just fine; it will just take some effort. There are no accidents just planned results.
There is a movement in this country that started in California and is now sweeping east. The Anti-Chain Movement is a group of Americans that refuse to buy and sell into chain stores. But, as fate would have it, this is not some hippie from Cal/ Irvine, this is mainstreaming Americans.
While our landscape is littered with Mega, Super and Extra-large retailers, there are folks that want to support the small business and help the little retailer. That is you Mr. Off Premise Retailer. But, they need a compelling reason to shop with you. You need to provide a reason that is not price. In 2015 we must accept the fact that Costco, Wal-Mart, and the like are impossible to compete with using price as the lever. We need to provide service or selection or knowledge as the driving principles of competition.
When Rosen Retail surveyed 1,000 shoppers in 2014, we learned that price was number 6 on the decision list. Service and selection were 1 and 2 respectively.
Suppliers more and more are looking for different outlets to sell their wares. There is no question that being on the shelf of Total Wine is great, but the reality is, however, that being on that same shelf can kill your business. Their sheer size and SKU set of control labels make your brand a 3rd tier choice for their sales teams.
That same scenario plays out at Costco, and regional players. When you enter distribution and the goal is to be in the shelf at Mega Liquors, you are sharing Lozier racking with 1,000 other spirits, and 5,000 other wines. The nature of Mega Liquors is to have heavy selection and light sales help. Your brand will die there.
Suppliers are searching out small distribution channels and regional and small off premise retailers to champion their brands.
It has become an us against them reality in the three tier system. This is what we recommend.