In the drinks industry, there is a tendency to overfocus internally and underestimate the ecosystem in which brands are built. Most of the time is spent perfecting the liquid, the packaging, the positioning, and targeting illusionary personas.
Unfortunately, minimal time is spent understanding how to make our brand fit into the ecosystem and be relevant for all the players involved. We forget that most sales happen through third parties (i.e. importers, wholesalers, bartenders, waiters, etc.) that do not share the same attachment with our product as we do.
In the Route-to-Consumer, through all those links of the chain, any brand (yes, even the coolest ones) will find a bottleneck. We tend to only think about the very next step in the chain, just guessing what will happen next. Instead, we should start with the end in mind, start from the glass and move backward.
Top-down thinking makes us kick the can down the road until we are forced to pick it up.
We may convince an importer to buy a pallet, or they may convince a wholesaler to place an order. The closer you get to the actual consumption occasion (the drink in the glass at the bar) the more chances a bottleneck with appear. Sales will struggle.
The moment the brand hits the bar, the problem gets in our faces. We cannot ignore it anymore. Our brand is either in the bar's cellar, ignored or it's in the back bar, collecting dust on the shelf.
- Wholesalers might have it in the range, but they don't propose it to bars
- Bars might have it in their back bars, but they don't offer it to people