Tips for Brands Looking for Wine Importers and Distributors in USA

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 attenting audience comprising of retailers, producers, importers and distributors of alcoholic beverages.

In this video Producers get solid tips for brands looking for wine importers and distributors in USA Please read below, one of the questions that was put forth to the panel and their answers.[ Also check out this webinar on How to Presenting your Brands to Wine Importers in USA ]

The Best Way to Pitch a Wine Importer or Distributor

If you’re looking to get your wines or spirits on the shelves of retail stores, you’ll have to know the best way to pitch a wine importer and distributor. You can think of them as the gatekeepers to getting your product on shelves. While they are obviously looking for products that are going to be profitable for them, they also want to hear the stories, expectations, and goals behind your wine.

As Scott Ades, CEO of The Winebow Group, explained, he gets a lot of calls and requests from people who would like to have their wines distributed. Sometimes, in fact, they simply ship bottles directly to him, hopeful that the most direct path is also the best path. But as Ades pointed out, he’s really looking for the “story” behind the wine and the winery. A good storytelling narrative can help to get his attention.

Of course, the situation is different if a wine is already established. In that case, the story may not matter as much as the actual facts about how the wine is already performing. But that’s seldom the case – instead, young unproven products must rely on a host of other factors – including early press coverage, overall competitive position, and pricing to cut through all the clutter.

Often, says Ades, if a wine is in a growing segment that’s not crowded yet, that can make a big difference in getting noticed. Giacomo Turone, a VP with the wine and spirits importer Palm Bay International, agrees. For him, being in a “hot category” is key. He’s looking at products from an overall portfolio perspective, and he’s always looking for emerging categories that are prepared for significant future growth.

To get a sense of where a wine is headed, he’ll take the time to talk to the people behind the brand. Data is important, but the personal characteristics are also important. If the wine is from overseas, he’ll want to see how the wine has performed in that foreign market first. He’ll also try to see if the wine is “press worthy” in terms of being a wine that he can present to the U.S. media. Is there a story already in place, or will he have to work with the wine to develop that whole storytelling narrative?

Finally, Jim Ryan, a SVP with the beer division of Constellation Brands, agrees that a wine doesn’t have to have “big growth” immediately. He tends to think in terms of 3-to-5-year time horizons. For him, the most attractive products to import are ones that are at the high-end, premium segment of the market, since that’s where the most growth is happening right now.

When he’s making the decision about a product, he’s thinking in terms of an entire portfolio. A wine or spirit brand should either complement the entire portfolio, or fill a void (what Ryan refers to as “white space”). As a final consideration, he’ll think about factors like ease of execution (i.e. how easy it is to import) and total investment required.

Ultimately, it all comes down to a single question: Why should a distributor be stocking your product and not somebody else’s? Having a story in place that lays out the expectations and goals of your product, and that helps to position your product as part of a broader portfolio of a wine distributor, can make all the difference.

Here the answer to this question at 3:25 minutes

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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.

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