How to Get on the Radar Screen of a Wine Distributor or Importer?

At the Conference Sessions for USATT, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in March 2016, there was a Panel that comprised of Jim Ryan, SVP of the beer division of Constellation Brands, Giacomo Turone, VP of wine and spirits importer Palm Bay International and Scott Ades, CEO of The Winebow Group. They were asked questions relevant to the attending audience comprising of distributors, importers, retailers and producers of alcoholic beverages.

Please read below, one of the questions that was put forth to the panel and their answers.

 QUESTION: “People obviously want to talk to you (as importers or distributors), so how do they get through the firewalls you put up? You’re hammered by phone calls, you can’t take everyone’s call, what can they do?”

 In today’s hyper-competitive market environment, importers and distributors are deluged by calls, as wine brands of all sizes try all types of tactics to get distribution within the all-important U.S. marketplace. So what can these brands really do to capture the attention of importers and distributors?

Scott Ades, CEO of The Winebow Group, suggests that the only way to get noticed is a combination of persistence and creativity. The other trick, he says, is to show importers that you’ve been getting a lot of press and media attention. That will sometimes open the door, since most importers are looking for emerging trends and unknown brands they can turn into a success.

USATT Panel Discussion

The participants of the recent panel discussion at the USATT Conference 2016 agreed, though, that it’s somewhat of a chicken-or-the-egg problem. How do you prove you’re a commercial success before you’re a commercial success? You need to start generating numbers that excite people, and you need to start getting trade media attention. If you can get a few articles written about you, you can tell other people about it.

Jim Ryan, a SVP with the beer division of Constellation Brands, says that smaller bands have to be “tenacious.” You have to be willing to try again and again, until you get a positive response. It also helps to attend industry events, since those are places where you can get face-to-face meetings and set up a display for people to learn about you. He stresses on the importance of being able to pour your product, sample them and speak to potential distributors and importers in a face to face setting. This really helps to make a connection rather than continuing to make cold calls over the phone.

Ultimately, though, finding the importer is not the end, it’s just the start for a new wine brand. They still need a sales solution, a marketing solution and a distribution solution. Too often, they turn to “brand ambassadors” and other “feet on the street” to build the brands. But that’s rarely scalable, and it’s also very expensive.

Giacomo Turone, a VP with the wine and spirits importer Palm Bay International, agrees. He says that brand ambassadors can get spread out too far. And half of their expenses are related to things like meals, hotels and plane trips – activities that are not helping to build the brand. Smaller brands need to focus on scaling, on growing and showing how they are unique within the marketplace. The best way to do that is for the brand owner – such as the founder of the business – to take a more visible role.

Ades also suggests that brands do some careful consideration of their business model and pricing. If you start with a price too low, you can never go higher. The price needs to be a realistic price that will fund your operations going forward. Given the costs of building a brand, Ades says that it’s better to invest in a brand without a brand ambassador.

Putting up real numbers is often the way to get the attention of any importer or distributor. And better yet if you can show velocity or momentum, in the form of sales that are increasing rapidly on a quarterly basis. That’s the best way to build a small brand from the ground up when you may have little initial volume. Thus don’t focus on the level of your sales – focus on the momentum and pace of those sales.

Hear the answer to this question at 22:27 minutes

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.
USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now

Vodquila – USATT 2016 Brand Pitch Sessions

Red Eye Louie’s VODQUILA is a special blend of Ultra Premium Vodka and imported Super Premium Tequila. Red Eye Louie’s Vodquila gives you the “Best of Both Worlds!” Blending these two distinct bases gives REL the flexibility and competitive advantage that brings new energy to the spirits industry and thus allowing REL to introduce new blends in 2016. Please click on the links for more information about Vodquila and Brand Pitch sessions.

USA Trade Tasting (USATT) is an annual adult beverage trade trade tasting and business conference where brand owners can connect with importers, state distributors, retailers and press of USA. 2017 USATT will be hosted in New York City on May 16-17. Backed with conference sessions, USATT helps exhibitors develop their sales network and adopt successful distribution strategies.

With instructional seminars exploring practical ways to address the current market, executives from some of the country’s leading companies will present their tried and true blue-prints to successfully maneuvering in the US industry. Get involved with 2017 USATT and grow your distribution.

If you are a wine, beer or spirits producer or an USA importer looking to grow, USATT is the perfect platform to help you connect with state distributors, importers and retailers in USA.

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now

How To Build An All Star Team For Your Beverage Business

Build An All Star Team For Your Beverage Business

In this exciting presentation from beverage business staffing pro and founder of BevForce, Josh Wand gives viewers an in-depth look at organizational design strategies and recruiting skills that all wine, beer and spirit executives should adopt in their operations.

USA Trade Tasting (USATT) is an annual adult beverage trade tasting and beverage business conference where brand owners can connect with importers, state distributors, retailers and press of USA. 2017 USATT will be hosted in New York City on May 16-17. Backed with Beverage Business conference sessions, USATT helps exhibitors develop their sales network and adopt successful distribution strategies.

With instructional seminars exploring practical ways to address the current market, executives from some of the country’s leading companies will present their tried and true blueprints to successfully maneuvering in the US industry. Get involved with 2017 USATT and grow your distribution.

If you are a wine, beer or spirits producer or a USA importer looking to grow, USATT is the perfect platform to help you connect with state distributors, importers, and retailers in the USA.

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now

Essential Business Information for Wine, Beer and Spirit Producers and Importers for the US Market

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Join thousands of beverage professionals at USA Trade Tasting on May 16-17 in New York city to connect with influential market makers and build your business.

USA Trade Tasting and ShipCompliant have teamed up to educate international suppliers and US based import companies. Continue reading

Discover Unknown Italian Wines Right Here in the USA

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Italian wines have enjoyed what seems to be a never ending growth in the U.S. marketplace. Clearly, there is huge demand in the U.S. for Italian wine, but at the same time, there is great competition. Debra and Dino Santonastaso, two enthusiastic Australian-Italians, have recently begun selecting and exporting wines to the U.S. – Debra was candid in explaining their reasoning and philosophies in starting D&D Italian Wines.

USATT Interviews Debra Santonastaso, from D&D Italian Wines, on how they have successfully transformed their ‘Made in Italy’ passion into a wide-ranging business byeducating US consumers and trade about new and unique Italian wine regions and labels.

USATT: What Got You Started in Importing Wines to the U.S.?

We had been looking to start a business in Italy for quite some time, and Dino and I have always been passionate about Italian food and wine. One winter evening in 2012, we were enjoying a glass of our local Morellino di Scansano wine with a couple of wine enthusiasts and I asked them how well known our Morellino is in the States. Their reply was, ‘Americans still have a lot to learn about Italian wines, and need to be educated on new wines.’ As Dino and I sipped our wine and listened to the couple talk about the U.S. wine market, we realized how much potential the U.S. has for ‘Made in Italy’ consumer products, particularly Italian wine… so D&D was born.

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Are you a wine distributor looking for new wines for your portfolio?  Register for USATT and connect with D&D Italian Wines (and others) in New York next May.

 

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