Forgive me father, for I have sinned, it has been 12 months since my last… column.
It is true, I was a frequent writer for Wine Industry Advisor as an adult beverage consultant. My last engagement took 12 months exactly, and now I am back. I am back with fresh insights, fresh perspective, and the same pointed commentary that you have come to expect.
I have spent the last 12 months running a retail CPG company – non-adult beverage related. This is relevant here because it has really shown me that our industry, that I am proud to be a part of, is woefully lagging behind other consumer industries in many marketing aspects. And given that 4th quarter is here, we need to discuss this immediately.
Sans the importer tier, which does a nice job of trend watching, retailers and producers are lagging behind in current marketing trends. Liquor is better than wine, and the off/on premise retailer is the worst of the bunch. This can all be fixed and adjusted in time for 4th quarter push.
The adult beverage business does roughly 43% of total sales in the last 7 weeks of the year, and that makes the 4th quarter critical for all interested parties to hit their year end numbers.
The world is about social media for the time being, and understanding that aspect will greatly impact consumer engagement. What drives traffic to what tier? Is twitter better for driving conversion? Is Instagram better from telling brand story? Is Facebook still relevant to the point that we should be spending considerable marketing dollars on the platform?
Our CPG counterparts have a strong methodology on what platform to use and when? This is critical to customer reach. Creating content for the consumer and not the boss is a plus. Remember, our drinker does not have a ton of interest in soil sample and hill slope.
It pains me to say that because we are a passionate industry with a passionate product. Our audience does not care a ton about barrel shape and aging process. What the drinker wants to see is a person like himself or herself, drinking, enjoying, and sharing their beverage of choice.
Using a CPG example, the customer wants to shop and buy from himself or herself. That applies for sales teams in the field and sales teams in the stores.
How we go to market can also be a bit antiquated. Take for example how we move items at the grocery space. Traditional thinking is; hire a tasting person on weekends to sample out product and sell bottles that way. That is how it has always been done.
Let us look at a traditional CPG way of selling at grocery. CPG uses cross selling and cross merchandising to their advantage. Where do you find BBQ charcoal? You find it in the meat section as well as its normal aisle. Same can be done for wine.
The wine/liquor aisle at grocery is called center store and given little attention by the shopkeeper. What if we put the lighter white wines with the seafood section? What if the beer stacking were cross-merchandised with in the party and chip/cookie aisle? These CPG methods of spreading the consumer footprint will increase depletions in all levels of the three-tier system.
Those are just some examples, but the message here is that everyday in our own personal world we see examples of other industries leveraging marketing and merchandising more than we do in the adult beverage business. The adage of “we always do it this way” will only lend itself to the same results as we have always had.
Our industry, as stated by Nielsen, is over 50% controlled by family or legacy operators, in all tiers. The challenge is always to improve and adapt. I came from a family business many years ago, and I remember struggles convincing elders that the internet was a viable way to sell. I remember telling my dad to get behind a small brand called Yellow Tail when all indications was there was no demand.
Many of us do not spend on data and market research, so we need to watch our outside environment for clues and tips to always improve how we bring goods down the channel. Happy Selling!