Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America is what you see is what you get
Two weeks and counting! 14 days and the annual pilgrimage to Distributor Heaven will be upon us. We will descend on Vegas partially for the gaming. Perhaps for the NHL playoffs. Potentially for the legal weed or the topless pools. But, most of us will fly into Henderson County to find a distribution solution for our brands. We will spend 4 days hanging on the every word that a distributor tosses around. The “we will see,” “great brand,” “there is nothing like this out there” phrases will be batted around like pennies in a fountain and will prop up the hopes of small wine, spirits, and beer makers globally and perpetually. Often these wish enhancing words end up like coins in the Fountain de Trevi, a pretty goal. Welcome to the WSWA annual convention.
BevStrat goes there for a different reason. We go there to educate, support, and connect with our brand partners and new, hope filled brands. Having the wisdom that 30 years in the game allows us to provide tips. I would like to bestow a few “golden” nuggets to our brands and brands in general in orders to get the most from the convention.
Nothing will happen until the Breakthru/RNDC merger is complete. There will be so many redundancies in play that all the sugar being spooned out at the convention will not turn into action until brands get dropped and extra sales and leadership get absorbed into newco. There is just too much in flux now, and any new brands will not be take by the Big 3 for 6 months. Mark your calendar by that time frame. January 2019.
All the heavy lifting will be done at the bar. Walking the floor and meeting distributors and makers is a fair use of time, but all the real business happens at the suites and hotel bar. Get your suite if you like, butting heading to the the center bar will make it happen for yourself, and often for the cost of a glass of wine. Our phone rings 3 x as much post show as pre show. Makers attend and then feel the need to chart their own path because no one will make it happen for you, least of whom is a distributor. It’s all up to you Mr. winemaker, distiller, and brewer.
Hone your pitch. Be ready incase you do get a valued minute with someone you can do business with, and use a few talking points to sell your brand. Words like marketing support, brand ambassador, retail activation, SRP, RIPS, etc are all words that show a distributor that you know exactly what you are selling and what levers will work for the wholesaler.
Location matters. Everyone wants to be in LA, NYC, IL, Miami, etc. No one wants to be in St. Louis. By way of example, be the brand that says that you have more play in STL then MIA and here is why. Knowing your core drinking audience and selling to them by location is more valuable than demanding to be in LA, because all good brands need to be in LA. You will get there in time, but being the best in STL is being the 100th best in MIA and being the best is an easy conversation to have with a distributor.
Social Media Matters. It is a young persons game for sure, but if you can demonstrate pull of your brand off shelf in a market, it makes the prospect of taking on your brand less risky. With less risk your brand has more ROI for a distributor.
We are not fortune tellers, but when you play in this business long enough you see trends. Business happens in trends. WSWA is a great event. Our core belief is that if your brand is good, a distributor will take it, no matter what time of year it is. Come with marketing. Come with pricing, COLA’s, and core demo known. Sometimes distribution goes to the brands than understand the audience and process as much as to the best wine maker and distiller. We will be there, and we look forward to meeting you all. WSWA can make your year but certainly will not break it if you come away empty handed. There is always the topless pool and weed shops.`