There is a biblical event coming. There is a pilgrimage en route that happens once a year that can change your life forever. Yes, of course, it is Easter this Sunday and Good Friday a few days prior, but what I speak of is of the same ilk. Of course I am speaking about WSWA. The annual trip to the mecca of where supplier meets distributor meets every single maker desperate for a plan to nationally sell their product.
This year, the pilgrimage will take you to Las Vegas and the irony is not lost on me at all. The most hopeful place for 4 days is also the same address as the most desperate place on earth. Dreams are made and shattered in the same locale. BevStrat will be there with a booth and our clients will of course be there as well. Will you?
WSWA is a place where your brand or product can bust out of a pack, find a regional or national distributor or connect with like-minded makers that are in equal search of their prophet. This event is wonderful, it is enlightening and it is the best place for … distributors to get together to golf and party. What’d you say? You mean that WSWA is not THE place for my brand to finally find footing in the challenging three-tier system? Short answer … NO!
WSWA is a wonderful place for you to go and meet and hopefully get the final rose a-la Bachelorette style, but I am of the thought that if you have a brand worth buying by the consumer, then the right distributor will take you on no matter what time of year you connect with them. This year will be very interesting in Vegas. This will be the first convention post merger of RNDC and BTB. It is the BevStrat thought that there will be very little business done here for the independent brand. Golf rounds and catch up dinners for distributor leadership will be what is on tap the most.
Think about it, there are basically three main US distributors. When a merger gets absorbed there is one thing that always happens no matter what industry. Redundancies are addressed. Too many similar SKU’s and long inventory in a category are all areas to be tackled. The convention comes at a time when all this work is happening for the distributor, and now pile on top 1,000 desperate makers making the pilgrimage to Vegas looking to add inventory and SKU’s to distributors brand book. Ain’t gonna happen! #truth
Go to Vegas, but set your expectation correctly. Walk the floor, come by our booth and say hello, but be clear on what the show can and cannot do. Make connections, take business cards, and learn what is happening in the market. Educated yourself on pricing, competition, and get all the lists, brand books, and knowledge materials you can. Business will get done there, and that happens within the bar at Caesars Palace.
The Promised Land truthfully is your distillery, your brewery, and your winery. That is where it all happens and will happen for your brand. That is where your experience is and your brand is created. WSWA is a place to fact find, gather info and learn new tricks. If you set your expectation correctly the show really can be a wonderful resource for future growth and knowledge, but the only real guarantee you will have is that like Easter, this show will come and go every year.