Like most of Earth I watched the Oscars last night. Beside the plausible deniability of a Bradly Cooper and Gaga relationship, there was something else that became clear to me. Amidst the multiple nominees and singular winners, it has occurred to me that the Oscars are very similar to the adult beverage business. Not the pomp and dress up but rather the notion that there can be only one winner at a time. Only one brand can lead and there are 5+ (read thousands) second place finishers.
I have not written for about 5 weeks for this column because I had a bit of writers’ block. Between growing BevStrat, managing the new suppliers that have joined our family and trade show season, I have been head down and working but I now can come back and speak my version of booze #truth.
The Oscars is a celebration of the best, as voted on, in all things Hollywood. The academy votes, the public consumes, and the awards are handed out. I maintain that this is exactly what happens in the booze business. There is one “best” per category whether it be a spirit, wine, or beer. There are thousands of honorable mentions but one winner. As it relates to adult beverage we need to celebrate just being nominated or at least being created, distributed, and sold.
Look at how hard our business really is. Celebrities jump in and out of our business all time. Drake, Bruno Mars, Coppola, Brad Pitt, and countless others are leaders in their field and also-rans in our field. The thing is… not being number 1 in selling and branding is OK. Like Hollywood, there is one Tom Cruise, but thousands of others looking to dethrone him. There is one Whispering Angel but thousands of other Rose’ brands that want that mantle. There can be only 1 number one and I would encourage our suppliers to thrive for, it but also accept that being at the table is also a victory…a win.
There is a notion that being an A list celeb is a one in a million shot. You get off the bus from Middle America and you have to fight the established players for your shot at the table. The booze business is no different. Every day, new COLA and TTB applicants are presented to dethrone established players like KJ, Cambria, DP, Clicquot, Gaja, and hundreds of others. The strong, perseverant and quality brand will make a run at it. The others will end up waiting tables.
There is only one wine of the year, only one “best” per category, but there are thousands of others. Our clients, the others, are more exciting to work for and with. This notion of anyone can “make it” is pervasive in both Hollywood and Adult Beverage. If you put the work in, are financed, marketed, and understand the rules of the game, you will be invited to the party for sure.
If you go into the business as a wide eyed and nubile, you will indeed be faced with the “fresh off the bus” realization and that will be bad for your psyche and your wallet. There are only a few Oscar winners but thousands in Hollywood are playing the game with major success. Strive for best, always, but know that because Bradly Cooper did not win best picture, he still is a major star and will continue to hone his craft.
Brands always say to us, I want to be the next Tito’s or the next Josh Cellars, I will counter with just be the first Lady Gaga. The rest will take care of itself. Original always wins.
Three 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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