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Why We Love the Booze Business


It’s Friday morning, early, early Friday AM, I am sitting here in my office working away. Coaching our sales and strategy teams to finish the week strong. I know that many people are off from work, or off to the beach, either way there was an “off” in that sentence. Summer season is here, drinking season is here, or as we call it in my house – a day ending in ‘Y”. In the booze business (wine, liquor, and beer) we measure success in terms of spikes and spurts of buying and selling.

Memorial Day kicks off beer season, and in a larger look at our trade the purchasing season for white wine, light beer, crafting cocktails, canned anything, and vodka. Rosé should have started weeks ago. We love our business because, while cyclical, it is not leading up to a grand finale in December like say jewelry or toys or EOM hype like cars. We have a chance every weekend to make a dent in our revenue line.

The business is forgiving to brands, if you provide story and price. The business is forgiving to retailers, if you provide price and service. But the best part of the business is that you can be successful all year round. Of course, holidays are key like Memorial Day, etc. and every Thursday/ Friday/ Saturday are all chances to brand build.

Our business is meant to be fun! People that consume the goods that we market and that the supplier creates are all generally, in goods moods and happy. They are celebrating, relaxing and otherwise enjoying a libation with family and friends and occasionally alone in the fetal position on a cold tile floor (But I digress).

As we near the half- waypoint of the year it is important to know and remember a few things.

  • Brands are built slowly- like any monument that stands time- all brand owners should be in it for long hall, not short-term case goals.
  • The consumer is forgiving to a point. Please do not be stuck in a price point of what YOU THINK IT IS WORTH, and not what the general public will buy it for. Tito’s has gone from free good to 14.99 to 21.99 and we surveyed it yesterday at 13.00 in Illinois.
  • First impressions are important, marketing support is more important. Launching well is critical, but launching with a marketing budget is more important, and that is non-negotiable.
  • Sales now equal placements for holiday time. You cannot be in market in September and expect pallets to move during OND. Christmas brands are built in summer.

Those little factoids aside, this is a great business. The whole supply chain and demand curve are all fun people and fun to deal with. Memorial Day is full of BBQ’s and family. You can only pick the BBQ food and not the family. At least in the booze business, you can pick your partners, your distributors, your sales teams and your retailers.

In real life you are just stuck with the family.

Celebrate safely

Brian RosenThree Tier Talk
by Brian Rosen, www.BevStrat.com

Brian Rosen is Former CEO of America’s #1 Retailer, Sam’s Wines in Chicago, Former Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Retail and sought after retailer consultant.

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