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Holiday placements and why it matters if you really want to make a big brand

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23/09/2021 Holidays are coming. Thanksgiving and Christmas followed by New Year's eve are the 3 biggest days for wine, beer, and spirits sales.

"Here are the things you can do if you can afford it. These tips are based on real examples that I did when I sold my own wine brand."

-Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network

First and foremost, change your thinking. Forget profit for the next 90 days. Think ‘new consumers’. Idea is to drive consumers and repeat business. Your goal should be to have consumers open your brand at their dinner table. Why? Because 10 other people are going to see your label. From that 10 people, 4 are going to love your wine and talk about your wine, like where did you buy this from, is this new? This is great etc. And you may get that new consumer asking about your wine where they normally shop, which may result in a new retail placement.

The second aim is getting the floor placement, that big stack. The objective here is ‘depletion’. If it's legal in your state, give deals and make it happen. Give 3 cases on 15 cases and 5 on 25 if you have to. Tell the retailer you will come here next 4 Fridays and deplete via in-store tastings. Make it work for the retailer. Remember, the goal here is to get new consumers and brand traction.

Now in the restaurants, try and do winemaker dinners, or any special event nights. Idea is to get your table tents on restaurant tables, get your wines in glass programs. This makes more sense ONLY if you have the retail going. Off-course do this if you focus on building an on-trade brand and position it for restaurants irrespectively.

The most important and the last point: have your distributor's sales representatives take your wine, beer, or spirits out to their accounts in October. October is THE month. That's when you want your distributors to order those 4-5 pallets from you and that's where you need to start hitting the ground with their sales reps and by the time you fly back, you need to ‘deplete’ that stock from your distributor.

Yellowtail Wine display

Image: Yellowtail wines display (Marmora, NJ) Boulevard Liquors Boulevard Liquors

The hard fact about this is ‘you have to do the selling, the work’ because you have the ambition to make it a national/big brand. NOT your distributors' sales reps, nor them. They will pick a supplier that can do the work for them and help them. So be that supplier. And here’s how you approach them:

Ask for 4 pallet orders and tell them you will do this:

1. The day order reaches your distributor, pick the following Monday to do a sales reps meeting and you ask them to take your brand in the market with 1 on 5, mixed case deal, 5 on 20 deal. Or whatever the case.
2. You ride one day with each rep with the goal of ‘getting displays’ and ‘placements’.
3. You tell your distributor you have an in-store tasting budget for any store that takes 5 and more cases and the goal is to deplete the stock from retail as well.
4. Repeat all the above one more time after 4 weeks.

If you can deplete 4 pallets with zero profit during the holiday season (it’s called investment), then do it. Brands are made during the holiday season. Capitalize on that.

For this case, I am taking an average $15 retail wine, where you as a supplier are making 35% profit. If that's the math, you can afford the above. (remember most of your promo you are trying to give in free cases - your cost). If it's not, increase your pricing but do the deals and programming as that's what drives brand growth for new brands who are trying to find new placements and new consumers.

Here is the bonus that you will get if you are able to deplete your stock from retail: Reputation. Once you build a reputation as a ‘good supplier’, you will get paid on time, you will be able to offer new products both to the distributor and retail.

Written by Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network