Our team is in Los Angeles this week to launch an Australian beer brand called 4 Pines. This is the 2nd largest brewer in Australia and was recently purchased by Anheuser Busch. Our whole team has worked on the USA strategy for months and months with this client. We have devoted hundreds of man hours and countless late nights and early mornings making sure we were ready to go this week. It got me thinking about the process of launching a brand and how incredibly hard it is. We put people, process, business plans, and the like towards this, and boy, what a huge effort. We are supposed to be the professionals, and it was still arduous.
Now I think about our clients and readers of this column. Our clients are smaller operations, vineyards, distillers, and that sort. Our clients do not have the resources to work on all the facets that go into it.
- Glass Makers
- Distributor Vetting
- State opening
And then…and then… you need to find a distributor, register with a desired state and finally, sell the stuff. Why would anyone want to be in this business. Yet, we all do! You, me, your friend from college, and that woman down the hall. We get the calls all day of brands lured into the business from the desire to be Casa Amigos. Here are some tips to get rolling long before you take a 2nd mortgage on the house or “bet the farm” in any way.
- Go Shopping. Go to the most successful retailer in your area and walk the selves. Look around and see where your brand might fit and frankly, might not. Always, remember, for your brand to go on the shelf, something needs to come off. What are you replacing?
- Pigs get Slaughtered. Everyone wants to be with big distribution, but big distribution is not right for all brands, and many brands will go there to die. Look at your food with your brain, and not your stomach, meaning that finding the right distributor for your brand is much more important than the biggest distributor for said brand. Rule of thumb; 50,000 brands in market, only 500 sell repeatedly.
- Never stop planning. There are too many cliches on instagram that talk about PLANNING, “Failing to plan is planning to fail…” but the reality is that it’s true. Make a plan to sell off the shelf and not only on the shelf. That very last mile of selling is the difference between Kendall Jackson and Sheridans, Tito’s and the 10,000 other $19.99 vodkas that exist. Coming off the shelf builds the brand.
There are many more clues, tricks, nuggets, that we can dispense, but creating a brand is the hardest thing you will do. The many pieces, the endless expenses before you sell bottle one and the non- guaranteed nature of it all. Make sure your wallet is full, your stomach is strong and your head is screwed on tight. The best way to make $1 Million in the beverage business is to start with $10 Million. Both sad and true.
We work on all facets of this business. Smart choices now will replace silly choices later.
See you all at WSWA.