Home Wine Business Editorial Three Tier Talk Diving Head First into the Booze Business

Diving Head First into the Booze Business


Spring is springing and summer is not far behind. Backyard events, concerts, and all sorts of warm weather activities. including swimming. Currently I am leaving Miami having spent the last few days, seeing the market, visiting key accounts, and solidifying a chain deal. While at the pool this weekend, I saw the attached sign on the edge. NO DIVING. The pool is shallow, has a hard bottom, and jumping in head first just might kill you, so please think before you dive and please put a toe in first. All this made me, of course, think of the booze business.

You will never hear the phrase, the water is shallow, come on in. You always hear that the waters are deep, jump in! The booze business is filled with shallow water and suppliers jumping head first into the shallow water. I do not want to paint a graphic picture of what diving into the shallow end can do, but let’s say the deep end is safer. Let’s me continue with the shallow water analogy. Lots of swimmers, all wanting to be in the deep end with the studs of our business, but all, and I mean all, need to enter the pool in the shallow end. All need to enter the pool in the shallow end.

BevStrat was at VinExpoNY this week, ProWein next week and WSWA following that. The main attendees are deep water swimmers. Unfortunately, the majority of the USA is a shallow pool market. Like the Platte River, really wide and really shallow allowing for many swimmers but not a lot of deep penetration.

We are trying to look for ways to convert shallow waters to deep waters. We are trying to support brands to toe tip first and then jump. Funny to me is when brands knows that we have sales people in key markets nationally they say, “what would it cost to open up all the markets?” We empirically ask, how many markets are you in now, and they respond, “oh, we sell locally and self-distributed 200 cases last year.” There is no need for a break neck dive into the market. The market will always be there, and it will respond to good brands and smart suppliers.

Swimming is something that is learned over time. Honed over time and you can excel in due time. An avid swimmer myself, I worked up into distance, worked on breathing, worked on downhill stroke, etc. On day one, I sucked at it and sucked at it for months.

To suppliers everywhere. Toe in the shallow end. Get comfortable with the pace and depth of the waves. Learn when to use a specific stroke and then, jump in. There is no advantage, not one, to diving into the shallow end and it will give you a major headache. Like anything, swimming, sales, market entry, pricing, backstroke, and brand development all take time to be successful. Rushing any of it will slow you down long term.

Brian Rosen

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.
EMail: [email protected]
Phone: 800-953-1312
Web: www.BevStrat.com

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