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As a wine brand, one of the most important decisions you make is picking your distributor. Finding the right distributor to represent your brand is a tough task. Before you pick a distributor, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself and the distributor.
How often are payments going to be made?
The number of restaurants, stores, retailers the distributor supplies to
How is the distributor going to merchandise your product?
How many brands in their portfolio are you competing with?
It’s very rare to find the right answers for all the questions you may have, however, there is a solution for this - beer distributors.
Yes, it might sound a little weird at first, but having your wine brand in a beer distributor’s portfolio is one of the best ways you can achieve the goals you’ve set for your wine.
You might be wondering why pick a beer distributor over a wine distributor for your wine brand? Here’s why beer distributors are hidden heaven for wine brands:
Wine distributors usually pay you after your wine is sold, and even then, most of the time you will find yourself running after your distributor for your payment. Writing cheques seems to be a tough task for wine distributors due to how their payment process is.
Wine distributors will write cheques to those whose products have moved the fastest, and whose products are in need of a repeat order. Wine distributors care about repeat orders, and that’s how they pick who to write their cheques to.
However, with beer distributors, they are punctual with their payments. They have offices, accounts, and people who write cheques when due. Beer distributors pay you irrespective of what is happening to your product. Once you send your cases to the distributor, and a date is decided for payment, you are guaranteed to receive payment on that day.
One of the oldest sayings in the book is “experience is the best teacher” and it applies perfectly over here. Beer distributors have been in the industry the longest, therefore they know almost everyone in the industry, and have good relationships with everyone, especially the Godfathers of retail, the big boys in the industry, and influencers who have the strongest pulse over the trade.
What’s better than being a part of the world that’s been around the longest? It’s the easiest way for you to get your wine into the system, as beer distributors have their ways with almost everyone in the industry.
Beer distributors are the best merchandisers out there. All their merchandising is done in-house including printing, holiday pricing, offers and more. All you need to do is give them your artwork and all your merchandising needs will be sorted. In short, it’s a worry-free street.
Beer distributors are known to distribute to every store possible. Whether it’s a gas station store, restaurant, big retail chains, convenience stores, and every other place they can touch. This is a huge advantage for your wine brand as you will be able to hit the stores that a wine distributor might not be able to help you with. Especially if your wine is on the cheaper side, and you want to get it into gas stations and convenience stores, then beer distributors are the best way to go.
A wine distributor will have hundreds of wines on their portfolio, and that’s where you will have to compete against other wine brands. However, beer distributors usually have very less wine brands on their portfolio, so all you have to do is have a top quality wine, match the beer distributor’s vision for building a legacy, and show your passion to them - and you’re bound to grab a spot on their wine portfolio.
There are two large beer distributors in the United States that are responsible for almost all the distribution.
The first thing you need to keep in mind when picking a beer distributor to represent your wine brand is where you want your wine to be located. For example, if you’re looking to be in the midwest, then the MillerCoors network is the one to go with. This is because MillerCoors have a monopoly in the midwest. Similarly, if you’re looking to be in the south, then going with Anheuser Busch would be the best option for you as the south is their monopoly.
Once you pick the most powerful distributor in your area, then the next thing you should do is to personally tell them about your vision. You need to match their passion and vision for sales, so tell them that they have all your support in depleting the stock - and you’ve hit a homerun.
The second thing you need to keep in mind is that once you pick the distributor you want to go with, then stick to them. The main reason for this is that word goes around, so if you’ve picked Anheuser Busch to be your distributor, and the sales rep you pitched to ends up loving your wine, then they spread the word about your wine, and soon every account of Anheuser Busch will be holding your wine on their racks.
Sticking to one distributor also helps a lot when you start pitching to large retail chains such as Walmart. It’s better to stick with one distributor so the retailers know what’s happening, who is doing the merchandising, and they will be aware of your wine, where it’s going, when it’s coming, and everything to do with it.
Sid has been in the wine and spirits industry for over 16 years. His first brand ‘Friday Monkey’ was sourced from the Riverina region of New South Wales. Having sold his brands in the USA to both independent retailers and national chains, small distributors to the nation’s largest distributors, he brings immense experience in building a brand from the ground-up.
“When I started pitching a wine in the state of Illinois, there was a guy called Kevin Burke, who was the owner of Burke Distributing”
“Kevin is someone who is well respected in the MillerCoors community. So once you get the most powerful person, the one who has been in the business for over 50 years, you personally tell them about your vision, and you tell them all you need is their support and tell them that you’ll prove it by helping them sell your wine.
So that gentleman put together about 30 of his friends in one room who cover every inch of Illinois. Now you’re talking about 50 million dollar people over here, all sitting in one room where I had to pitch. The simple question they asked is why shall we buy your wine?
In one pitch, I actually pitched and covered these amazing Miller owners on why they need to carry my wine, and the good news is that if it’s no, it’s just no, but if it’s yes, then all of them will be on board and you’ll gain the distribution access of every single MillerCoors account overnight”
Tip From Sid : Try to get access to such a meeting, because once you get the whole gang in the room, and it’s a yes, then you’ve made it very easy for yourself and your brand is bound to be successful.
“Another way to approach is by working slowly. Make relations with the first guy, build your personal rapport with him, make sure your wine is selling, and then ask for introductions. Be like hey Kevin, do you know other Miller guys who are looking for wine products, and I can go there and show the success we’ve had here”.
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