What Is The Supplier Obligation?

I have two kids.  They are wonderful kids and like siblings, they argue about nearly everything.  Who does what?  Who is responsible for what and who gets credit for what?  Those are my kids’ struggles but that same scenario can play out with my supplier clients.  Suppliers that are with ANY distributor lament the lack of effort on behalf of their brand.  Suppliers, like my kids, think that mom and dad will handle it all and they will be the recipient of the benefits of being our kids or with distribution.  That is just not true!

The way the adult beverage world is now is that major suppliers are really logistic companies for brands.  They deliver, they collect, and they repeat.  Unless, as I have always stated, you are one of the chosen ones, the top 300 brands nationally, they will just be a resource for your brand to make it to a shelf or back bar somewhere in America.

What is the supplier obligation in the three-tier system and how can any maker support their own success?  We work with over 114 SKU’s and 24 suppliers and each supplier is different and approaches the sales process differently.  Some makers are the hobbyist  and some make a craft product and depend on sales to support their life. The enthusiast or “weekender” is hard for us to handle. If you are eager enough to be in this business than you cannot be an enthusiast. You will lose your ass.  No doubt about it.  You will be outspent, outsold, and basically underperformed by brands that pay 100% more attention then you do.  It is ok the be that “guy or gal” but set your expectations accordingly, because the liquor business will spit you out.

The best client and the best supplier is the supplier that is 100% engaged.

  1. Be available to your brand ambassador, sales arm, distributor and us
  2. Visit the market UNANNOUNCED – visiting a market announced with ride alongs will only paint the very best picture.  Surprise market visits will show you what your distributor and sales teams are really doing. Do you ever call your kids and tell them EXACTLY when you will be home, of course, you do not.
  3. Over support with marketing slicks, POS and POP material.  In a crowded marketplace, consumers will shop visually.  Be ready for visual selling
  4. Know your rights- bother your distributor for account info, depletion reports, and market reaction documents.  This is your right and will make you more powerful in your market.  Last week we had a CA sales person visit 108 accounts in a five day period.  That same period for that same brand, a big 5 distributor rep showed the brand 16 times.  If you look up bogus in the dictionary, that would be the definition.
  5. Know that now is the time.  If it does not happen in the next 75 days from a selling perspective, it will not happen at all and for sure not again until March 2018.  My dad, a globally known liquor retailer, would say the following, “if you lose the Super Bowl the regular season record does not matter”!  Who agrees with that??
  6. Take responsibility!  Whether you are a small distributor, large distributor or a disruptor like LibDib, it is still the maker’s responsibility to fight for your brand.  Our company fights for suppliers all the time but our bark is nothing compared to a maker bite and paying attention in a given market.
  7. Pull data.  TTB and state websites have data about license address, locations, spend, business size and other critical info to help pinpoint the sale opportunity.  Do the work and the results will come.
  8.  Let your pricing vary by channel, location, and incentive

4th quarter is when lookers become buyers.  We at BevStrat spend 9 months selling, making relationships, identifying opportunity and pinpointing attention points for the 4th quarter.  The supplier responsibility is to be right there with whomever they choose to support the brands they own. A supplier has the preverbal one child in their brand, SWS has 9000 children and like my own family, it is impossible to pick a favorite.

Your obligation, Mr Supplier, is to watch, nurture, protect and pay attention to your kids!

Credits: Brian D Rosen










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Preparation to Pitching: How to get and grow with your distributor

How to get and grow with your distributor?

In today’s ever changing world of craft beer, never has it been more important to understand how to work in harmony with your wholesaler. With the number of breweries expected to reach 6K before the end of 2017, differentiating yourself with your wholesaler is critical to success. Beer wholesalers expect a level of quality not just in the beer made but in the business plan prepared and presented.

This presentation will walk you through identifying a network, how to make the contact, building out the plan and how to deliver in a manner that will set you apart from your competitor. A concise step by step of all the details needed to help make the move into the wholesale world and generate growth for both you and your partners.

 Adam Lambert’s Bio:

adam_lambertAdam has spent the last 20 years learning from just about every angle of the beverage industry. Starting as a grocery store liquor clerk and growing to his current COO position with Storied Craft Breweries, a growth capital company. Adam has spent time as VP of Sales for Virtue Cider part of the ABI’s High End group, New Holland Brewery and Distillery as VP of Sales, 7 years’ as VP of Sales for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and 6 years as National Sales and Marketing Manager for Rogue Ales. Past experiences include owning a wine distribution company and beverage brokerage, managing the west coast as a brewery brand manager for SLO Brewing Company and is a proud graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Adam has been a member of the Independent Council on 3-Tier Dynamics and long serving member of the Brewers Association Export Development Committee. Adam has been a featured presenter at the Craft Brewers Conference, Brew bound Brew Talks, Beverage Trade Network, and the Bar and Night Club Show.

Learn from some of the most influential professionals in the beverage industry at the USATT conference. Meet Adam Lambert at USATT conference and learn more about How to get and grow with your distributor.

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