99% of drinks brands I see, start in the market thinking they should follow what big players are doing.
They spend their limited resources on sponsorships and fancy events with no link to where they’re sold. Big budgets go to digital campaigns with alleged influencers and drinks awards.
If big brands are doing it and they are successful in the market, it means it works, right? No, it’s not that simple.
If you don’t build distribution and sales velocity first, any money your spend is like a drop in the ocean.
Big brands, usually have already secured distribution in the market. They are already known by consumers and bartenders. They don’t start from scratch, so rotation has a higher baseline. That means that spending money on the above is building on existing distribution. When people try their product at events and fairs, they will find that brand where they hang out and shop.
When I managed brands in the market, I was getting a lot of requests for small or big sponsorships of events. Shop openings, random fashion shows, etc. What better way to reach my brand's target persona, I thought? It's about the long term, right?
I soon realized that it wasn’t working. People trying the brand could not find it afterward. My brand was not distributed in the places where they used to hang out. Marketing and Sales were working in parallel, in 2 different worlds that didn’t meet. On top of that, what seemed to be an effortless way to get trials with a few free cases, in the end, was not. The team was busy with a myriad of phone calls by organizers planning the various events, and sending cases left and right.
I changed my approach completely and shifted the marketing spend to fixing the basics. I cut all the random sponsorships and spent money only on the experience in the trade.
Regardless if you are bootstrapping or investors fund your journey, you have limited resources. It’s effortless to waste money on what you think is right but you must focus on things that move the needle. For a small brand starting in a market, it’s important to get the basics and priorities right. You must learn to discern things that are “nice to have” vs those “must have”.
Building the foundation in trade is the key to success in a city
What's the "must have", then? Creating demand, gaining distribution, and rotation in the first bars. Let's dig into it: